Fourth quarter surge leads Wildcats; Hoggard, Ashley girls keep pace in conference

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The Wildcats went just 6 of 26 from the floor in the first half and trailed by one headed into the fourth quarter, but junior guard Ayonna Cotten scored nine of her game-high 13 points over the final eight minutes of regulation to lift New Hanover past Laney 40-31 in Buctown on Tuesday night.

After 11 lead changes, Cotton knocked down a baseline jumper with just over five minutes remaining to give the Wildcats a lead it would not relinquish as New Hanover kept pace atop the division standings, improving to 3-0 in conference and 10-4 overall.

Kayleigh Merrell. Photos courtesy- Rodney Williams.
Kayleigh Merrell. Photos courtesy- Rodney Williams.

“We were in a funk and acted like we haven’t played in a month to start the game,” said New Hanover Coach Vertha Dixon-Wright. “Don’t take anything away from Laney. I thought they came out, were fired up and we threw up bricks. We were out of sync on offense and when that happens, our defense tends to struggle.”

Both teams used a pair of 8-0 runs during the first half of action to keep pace. The Wildcats carried a 16-15 edge at the break, but Laney held a one-point advantage headed into the fourth quarter.

Baley Edwards knocked down a three-ball late in the third period to give the Bucs a 26-21 lead before Amani Muhammed grabbed an offensive rebound and dished an assist for Amya Marshall’s only basket of the game to pull within three. A steal by Kayleigh Merrell at half court on the next possession led to fast break points for Cotten just as time expired to keep it a one-point game.

New Hanover eventually went on a 7-0 run and outscored Laney 16-5 during the fourth quarter to pull out the win.

Eight different players found the scoring columns for the Wildcats. Elizabeth Criner added eight points and New Hanover did a better job on the glass in the second half after Laney held a 14-8 advantage in rebounds over the first half.

“We know that Ayonna has to score for us to win,” said Dixon-Wright. “She responded late for us tonight, but we need everyone to be more consistent. Playing Laney a few days ago didn’t help. I think we thought we could just come out and they would give it to us. We can’t do that and give all the credit to Laney for pushing us tonight.”

AlaniFisherEdwards went 3 of 6 from long range and finished with 13 points. Lexi Melville, Jayda Malone and Kirstie Langley added four points apiece.

Laney dropped to 1-2 in conference and 6-7 overall. The Bucs head to West Brunswick on Friday, while New Hanover entertains Topsail.

NHHS 10-6-9-16=40

Laney 6-9-11-5=31

Hoggard 52    West Brunswick 17

It was business as usual for the Hoggard girls basketball team on Tuesday night as the Vikings scored the game’s first 20 points en route to a 52-17 victory over West Brunswick.

Led by Emma Haywood’s game-high 15 points, nine different players recorded at least one basket for Hoggard. Alani Fisher knocked down two treys and finished with eight points. Aleah Thompson grabbed a team-high six rebounds, while Tara Poteat recorded four steals.

The Vikings remain atop the conference at 3-0 in league play and moved to 12-3 overall.

Ashley 43     Topsail 23 

Carly Baron.
Carly Baron.

Serenity Williams scored a game-high 16 points and Carly Baron chipped in with eight as Ashley started 2016 on a high note following a 43-23 victory over Topsail in Hampstead.

Ashley moved to 2-1 in conference and 5-7 overall. The Pirates dropped to 0-3 in league play and 9-4 on the year.

Coastal Christian 49     Cape Fear Academy 44

Sabrina Sims had 14 points and Abby Parker added 13 points to give Coastal Christian a 49-44 win over Cape Fear Academy.

The Centurions led by 12 at the half and carried a 38-27 advantage headed into the fourth quarter. The Hurricanes outscored Coastal Christian 17-11 over the final eight minutes of regulation.

Clohe Kernan led all scorers with 21 points for Cape Fear Academy. She went 9 of 11 from the free throw line.