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Lady Knights rally to defeat L-E, 51-48

Posted: December 3, 2018 2:22 p.m.
Updated: December 4, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

NC’S KALI TOMLIN TRIES to dribble away from the pressure being applied on her by Lugoff-Elgin defender Mikiah Duncan in action From Friday’s game.

 Clutching his trusted bottle of lemonade, North Central girls’ basketball coach David Dawson could almost measure how stressful a night it was.

Standing outside his team’s locker room following a come-from-behind 51-48 win at Lugoff-Elgin, the lemonade bottle in Dawon’s hand was nearly three-quarters full when it could have easily been drained. When asked about his drink of choice, the second-year Lady Knights’ boss laughed and said it was part of his game night routine and supply.

“Between mints, gum, Powerade and this lemonade, it’s kind of like my good luck charm. It brings good luck for me,” he said with a smile.

While that variety of sweets may bring Dawson luck on the bench, it was his team’s hiking the intensity up on both ends of the floor which helped the visitors overcome a 37-27 fourth quarter deficit and leave The Demons Den with their first win in two tries this season.

As for the hostesses, Von Duncan’s charges seemed to have things going their way after a pair of Ivey Allen free throws put the Lady Demons ahead, 37-27, with 7:05 left to play in their season opener. Not being able to close the deal is something which Duncan said her team needs to learn how to do.

“We have to work on being patient with the ball when we’re ahead and just relax,” she said. “We were jumpy and trying to rush everything when we had no reason to rush.”

The Lady Knights were able to complete the comeback by scoring with the game clock stopped by fouls and using that to knock down 10 of their 12 free throw chances in the final stanza with junior guard Peyton Holley hitting nine of 11 tries from the stripe in the fourth quarter.

Not having to burn time by finding their way to the foul stripe was what helped trigger the NC rally.

“That was very important,” Dawson said of getting to the free throw line. “The main thing I teach is that, being that we’re an undersized team, we have to be aggressive. If we can be aggressive and make the referees blow the whistle … I always tell our girls to make them blow the whistle and do their job. That’s something that we work very hard on and, we also practice shooting free throws.”

The Lady Knights hit 17 of their 21 free throw chances while the taller Lady Demons only went to the line nine times, draining six.

It was a pair of Ivey Allen free throws, however, which gave L-E a 37-27 lead with 7:05 left in the game. Four Holley free throws and a Makaila Grant layin --- coming as the result of a Holley steal and assist --- chopped the lead to 37-33. A layin from L-E sophomore Gabby Powers with 4:30 left raised the lead to 39-33.

The Lady Knights closed to within a pair, at 39-37, following a Madison Dixon layin and a Grant stickback  with 3:25 showing on the game clock. A Kali Tomlin high-arching 12-foot rainbow jumper with 2:21 to play put the deficit at 41-40.

Using three jumpers from Allen, L-E led, 45-42, after the third of those found the mark from 10 feet away with 1:26 to go in the contest. Fifteen seconds later, Tomlin put this game on level ground with a 3-point jumper which touched off a 7-0 NC surge which included Tomlin knocking down a twisting, off-balance jumper before a pair of Holley free throws with 37.4 seconds to play put the guests up, 49-45.

A 3-point jumper from Brooke Grant with 17 ticks left in the game clock drew L-E back within a point at 49-48. Having to foul, the Lady Demons fouled Ciaira Black with five seconds left and the junior guard put this one away by making both free throws.

Black finished the game with nine points while Dixon and Grant added eight and six points, respectively, for the Lady Knights who were led by 14 each from Holley and Tomlin who scored all but four of their team’s points in a season-opening loss to Camden.

Getting contributions from players beside Holley and Tfense’s attention.

“I think we got the first game jitters out of us,” Dawson said. “In practice, we watched film and everyone was able to see the mistakes they made and we were able to correct those tonight. Everyone was able to take a look at themselves and say, ‘This is what I need to do better.’ That includes the coaches because everything starts with me and my staff.”

Duncan said it was no secret that the Lady Demons were keying on NC’s two leading scorers.

“It’s very important to stop them. They have a lot of heart. They have a lot of ‘want to’ and that’s something you can’t coach. You either have it or, you don’t,” Duncan said of Holley and Tomlin.

The Lady Demons all but shut down Holley and Tomlin while getting to and making their own shots in jumping to a 17-8 lead after one quarter of play.

An 8-0 run, which included a Mikiah Duncan 3-point jumper along with a Jazmin Foster jumper and an Emma Branham putback  gave the Lady Demons a 10-2 lead less than four and a half minutes into the game. A traditional 3-point play from Foster and a Mikiah Duncan steal and layin hiked the advantage to 15-6.

NC gathered itself between quarters and opened the second stanza with a Black 3-point jumper which touched off a 12-5 run which included another Black basket and four points from Holley as the Lady Knights climbed back and trailed, 22-20, before A Foster trey and a Grant bucket pushed the L-E lead to 27-20 in a first half with ended with a Mikiah Duncan layin  in the closing 20 seconds and L-E carried a 29-22 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

Von Duncan said her team let off the gas after getting to a quick lead.

“We came out looking pretty strong tonight and we put it in cruise control. We told them over and over and over again that you have to keep going and you can’t let up,” she said.

The Lady Demons scored the first four points of the second half courtesy of baskets from Foster and Tamira Tucker to hike its advantage to a game-best 33-22 spread with 6:21 left in a low-scoring third quarter in which L-E outscored its guests, 6-4, to lead, 35-26, heading into the game’s final eight minutes.

Dawson said his team’s second half surge came as a result of being more aggressive rather than his staff making wholesale changes during intermission.

“Actually,” he said, “we made one or two changes but the main thing was that we just had to pick up our intensity. We had to come out and play more intense after halftime than we were playing in the first half.”

Von Duncan, whose team was led by 10 points each from Foster and Mikiah Duncan while receiving eight fourth quarter points from Allen along with seven Tucker, said her team will learn from this first game.

“We have to just do us,” she said. “We have to have confidence in us and do what we can do with what we bring to the table.”

NC (51): Kali Tomlin 6 1-2 14, Makaila Grant 3 0-0 6, Madison Dixon 2 4-6 8, Peyton Holley 2 10-14 14,Ciaira Black 3 3-2 9. Totals: 16 17-24 51

L-E (48): Tamira Tucker 3 1-4 7, Jamin foster 4 0-0 10, Mikiah Duncan 4 1-1 10,Emma Branham 1 0-0 2, Lanique Moore 1 0-0 2, Brooke Grant 2 2-2 7, Ivey Allen 3 2-2 8, Gabby Powers 1 0-0 2. Totals: 19 6-9 48

Score by quarters: First: L-E, 17-8; Halftime: L-E, 29-22; Third: L-E, 35-26; Three-point goals: NC 2 (Tomlin, Black), L-E 4 (Foster 2, Duncan, Grant)omlin will help take the pressure off the pair who, for the first two games, were the focal points of the opposing de

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