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Western girls forge ahead in best postseason in two decades; next playoff game is Fri. night

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Western is on an 18-game winning streak as playoffs continue

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

The Western Alamance girls’ basketball racked up another accomplishment Tuesday night.

The Warriors don’t want to stop there after knocking off visiting Franklinton 66-59 in the third round of the Class 3-A state playoffs.

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“Being humble and realizing the job is not done,” Western junior Tina Bowers said.

Western Alamance juniors Allie Sykes, left, and Tina Bowers both reached 1,000 career points earlier this year vs. Eastern Alamance.

The Warriors have made the deepest postseason run since the team appeared in a state championship game 24 years ago.

Next for fourth-seeded Western (23-6) is Friday night’s trip to top-seeded South Central (27-2), which is located in Winterville, for an East Region semifinal. It’s a rematch from the Warriors’ 55-48 victory on Martin Luther King Day. South Central has won 16 straight since that game, while the Warriors are riding an 18-game winning streak.

The winner will play in the regional final Tuesday at Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem. The Class 3-A final will be held March 15 in Winston-Salem.

The setting for the third-round game was a standing room-only crowd in a stuffy gym. Bowers poured in 23 points and Allie Sykes had 20 points for the Warriors, who reached the third round for the second year in a row.

Western’s double-digit lead in the first quarter dimmed to 33-31 by halftime. The Warriors kept pushing back.

“So we could finish it,” Sykes said. “Staying true to what we’ve been focusing on and being tough.”

The intensity from his team is what Western coach Sean Quinn liked. He’d like to see some fine-tuning along the way.

“I think we’re going to build on what we got out of that game,” he said.

Fifth-seeded Franklinton (25-2), which had a 25-game winning streak after defeating Rocky Mount 61-37 on Friday, kept threatening and was boosted by Asia Burton’s 26 points. The Warriors made enough free throws to hold on.

“There was a mentality making sure we could handle adversity,” Bowers said. “We were able to stop their run and get on our own run.”

 

Big points in second round

With the offense cranked up, Western put itself in a good position in the second half of Friday night’s 92-77 victory against Fayetteville Smith in the second round.

“We usually get our shots up,” Xiomara Moser said.

Indeed, the Warriors put on an offensive show at times after overcoming a 10-point deficit.

“They are as fast a team in girls’ high school basketball that you’ll find, and we play fast,” Quinn said in describing the challenge from the Golden Bulls.

So at times it was off to the races between these teams.

Sykes scored 30 points to lead the Warriors, who wobbled a little early. but Sykes had 13 points in the first quarter, including a personal 7-0 run.

“Allie Sykes was inspiring in that first half,” Quinn said. “She put the whole team on her back for a while.”

Others joined in. Bowers poured in 18 points, Bri Pulliam had a productive first half and ended with 15 points, and Moser had all 11 of her points in the second half. Cayden White also had 11 points, including perhaps the most memorable shot of the night.

White made a banked-in 3-point heave from well beyond the top of the key at the first-half buzzer. That gave the Warriors a 10-0 spurt to end the half and a 46-43 edge, and they led the rest of the way. No. 13 seed Fayetteville Smith fell to 20-8.

“Once we tuned out the crowd and it made us play better,” Moser said.

The near-capacity turnout, though, gave the Warriors emotional lifts as the scoreboard kept clicking higher. Western’s lead grew to 55-45 less than two minutes into the second half on Bowers’ three-point play. In the fourth quarter, Kiya Shavers drilled a 3-pointer and the gap ballooned to 80-64.

“That’s just kids making plays,” Quinn said. “We had to continue to attack and attack. They were connected and played great together.”

 

Cape Fear 80, Eastern Alamance 64: Friday at Fayetteville, the visiting Eagles came up short in the Class 3-A second round. It was Eastern’s first loss to a team other than Western Alamance since late December.

The 15th-seeded Eagles, who fell behind 36-24 by halftime, finished with a 19-10 record. Second-seeded Cape Fear improved to 26-1.

 

Class 2-A girls

At Bethel, Southeast Alamance’s season ended with an 86-62 loss to top-seeded North Pitt (25-3), which won its 18th game in a row. Zamareya Jones, a North Carolina State signee, had 35 points for North Pitt.

The No. 16 seed Stallions (20-8). who trailed 22-8 after the first quarter, received 23 points from Shaniya Paylor, 20 points from Clar LaChapelle and 10 points from Inysia McIver.

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