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Warrior girls figure it out; top Eastern for conference title Fri. night


By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

The right mindset helped Western Alamance’s girls’ basketball team make it through most of the Central 3-A Conference Tournament title game Friday night.

Then the Warriors produced an efficient fourth-quarter stretch and that was enough to withstand upset-minded Eastern Alamance for a 58-50 decision for the game played at Roxboro Person.

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Western Alamance players gather on the court ahead of the trophy presentation Friday night in Roxboro.

“Jump shots and layups really weren’t falling,” said Western’s Tina Bowers, who scored 16 points. “It’s a mentality to keep attacking. This game was a defensive game. You’ve got to fight. You can’t roll over.”

Emma Johnson gave the regular-season champion Warriors the lead for good with a fastbreak basket and she had the game’s next points with a 3-pointer with 2:58 left for a 50-45 lead.

“We made those shots,” Johnson said. “The game fueled us the way it was close the whole game. We made them when we needed them.”

It was the opposite for the Eagles, who didn’t connect on a fourth-quarter field goal until less than a minute remained. Western coach Sean Quinn switched defenses, saying he was seeking a change in the game’s flow.

“Coach Quinn made a good decision to go to that 2-3 (zone),” Eastern coach LeConnda Curry said. “That took our inside game out.”

Rihanna Gregory’s 3 trimmed the hole to 52-48 at the 53-second mark. By then, the Warriors were in the midst of hitting eight consecutive free-throw attempts in the last 62 seconds. The first six of those were made by Allie Sykes.

Johnson also finished with 16 points and Cayden White added 10 points for Western (20-6), which owns a 15-game winning streak after overcoming a five-point hole in the second half.

The Eagles (18-9), who had won seven in a row since a loss at Western, received 12 points from Gregory, 11 from Makayla Thompson, 10 from Nicole Hester, and nine from Aliya Trollinger.

Yet it was the Eagles’ defense that set the tone for much of the game. Eastern turned to a triangle-and-2 defense that the Warriors hadn’t seen this season. It nearly helped produce a tournament crown.

“I tried a different defense and it worked,” Curry said.

Gregory defended Sykes, whose only points were her late-game free throws, and Trollinger and Makayla Scott took turns on Bowers. Quinn said that put the Warriors in unfamiliar positions, though he said he’s hoping there will be benefits in the state playoffs from that experience.

“It was a good way to challenge us,” Bowers said.

Bowers was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, while teammates Sykes and White were all-tournament members. That list also included Thompson, Hester, and Williams’ Scout Winter.

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