There are several things basketball teams can overcome during the course of a game. Going more than 15 minutes of game time without making a basket from the field would be at or near the top of that list.
When North Central’s Kali Tomlin stuck a 12-foot jumper to cap her team’s 6-0 run to open the second quarter and draw the Lady Knights to within 14-13 of visiting Lee Central, little did anyone knew it would not be until Melanie Hackworth’s bucket with 4:40 left in the game that the hostesses would find the mark from the floor.
The drought of 15 minutes and six seconds did little to help NC’s hopes of upsetting the visiting Lady Stallions who left The Castle with a 51-30 Friday night win.
The visitors improved to 9-1 in Region 4-AA play, tied atop the circuit with Andrew Jackson. The loss dropped NC to 4-6, good for fourth in a conference in which the top five teams will make the AA state tournament which opens next Tuesday.
When reminded of his team’s extended dry spell from the field, second-year Lady Knights’ head coach David Dawson said all his girls could do was put this one behind them and look ahead to the final two games of the regular season and try to lock down a postseason berth.
“The emphasis is that we want to finish strong and make a push for a good playoff position,” he said of his team’s remaining 4-AA games --- both on the road --- with Lewisville tonight and Buford on Friday.
Facing a deep and talented Lady Stallion squad, NC hung with the perennial state contenders for the better part of three quarters and trailed, 32-24, after three quarters. But the guests had more left in the tank, opening the final stanza on a 6-0 run to hike their lead to 38-24 with a little more than six and a half minutes left to play.
NC received a game-best 16 points from Tomlin, a senior, and 12 more from junior Peyton Holley as the two guards combined to score all but four of their team’s point with Hackworth scoring those.
Getting a pair of layins from Tomlin and a Holley putback, NC trailed, 11-7, in a first quarter which ended with LC’s Robionne Myers draining a 3-point shot in the closing 15 seconds to give her team the 14-7 lead after the opening eight minutes.
A pair of Hackworth free throws, a Holley layin and Tomlin’s knocking down a 12-foot jumper with 3:56 left before halftime got NC within a point at 14-13. A trey from NiJeria Reddick with 58 seconds left put LC’s lead at 22-14 in a half which ended at 22-15 after NC missed five of its final seven free throw attempts in the second quarter of play.
A pair of Holley foul shots opened the second half as NC closed the gap to 22-17. Kendra Lesane then hit a pair of baskets for the guests with the second of those, a putback, making it 29-20 with 90 seconds to play in the third quarter.
While not having success from the floor, the Lady Knights remained close thanks to the free throw line as they knocked down seven of nine from the charity stripe in a third quarter which ended with the Lady Stallions holding a 32-24 lead while they made just four of their nine foul shots in the quarter.
Not being able to cash in from the floor was a large obstacle for the home team to overcome.
“It was tough. It was a tough second half for us tonight, but we played a really good team in Lee Central,” Dawson said. “I have to give them a lot of credit. They came out and played real hard in the second half.”
The dagger was applied when LC opened the fourth quarter on a 17-4 run to lead, 49-28, with 3:20 left.
The fact that the game was a physical one favored the visitors who had the edge in height, athleticism and number of players.
“That hurt us quite a bit,” Dawson said, “but that’s part of the game. Sometimes, the game gets physical. Basketball is a contact sport and that’s one of those things that we have to live with. We just have to go out there and play.”
LC (51): TaShanna Harris 2 2-6 6, Kendra Lesane 5 0-3 13, A’Yanah Harris 4 1-3 9, Robionne Myers 3 2-2 9, Keionyah Dennis 2 2-4 6, NiJeria Reddick 1 0-0 3, Jada Rogers 1 0-0 2, Desiree Holmes 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 12-18 51
NC (30): Peyton Holley 2 6-13 10, Kali Tomlin 3 10-12 16, Melanie Hackworth 1 2-2 4, Cassandra Broughton 0 0-1 0, Ciaira Black 0 0-2 0. Totals: 6 18-30 30
Score by quarters: First: LC, 14-7; Halftime: LC, 22-14; Third: LC, 32-22; Three-point goals: LC 4 (Lesane 2, Myers, Reddick), NC none