First-place in the Mideastern Conference was on the line Tuesday night at Brogden Hall and the Hoggard Vikings grabbed a one-game lead atop the division following an impressive 44-30 victory against New Hanover.
With their seventh straight result, Hoggard moved to 5-0 in league play and 14-3 overall. Meanwhile, the Wildcats dropped to 4-1 in conference and 12-4 on the year.
“I was nervous coming into tonight, but the girls followed the game plan and knew what was at stake,” said Hoggard said Boubacar Aw. “We wanted to make a statement. It was a big conference win against a good team.”
Playing for the second time in less than three weeks, both teams got off to a slow start, but senior Emma Haywood carried the scoring effort for Hoggard until a late push by her teammates garnered a 25-15 advantage at the break. Haywood scored eight of her team’s 10 points over the opening eight minutes of play and had 14 in the first half on 6 of 9 shooting. She finished with a game-high 16 points.
New Hanover was unable to solve Hoggard’s defensive scheme as the Wildcats scored 15 total points in the second half and shot just 32 percent from the floor.
“Emma [Haywood] is a gamer,” Aw added. “She is our leader. Along with Aleah [Thompson], they are great captains for our team. They’ve grown up so much since I took over when they were freshmen.”
Amani Muhammed scored the first three points of the third period to cut the deficit to seven before the Vikings went on a 9-0 run thanks to a balanced attack. Keeley Britt had an offensive put back during the push, while Blair Barefoot knocked down her only three-ball of the game to make it 30-18 midway through the frame. A free-throw by Barefoot and lay-in by Aleah Thompson continued the spurt before Barefoot finished the push from the charity stripe. New Hanover was held to just five points over the eight-minute quarter, all scored by Muhammed.
Each team committed five turnovers during the opening frame. Ayonna Cotten tied the game six-all with a bucket in the paint and one, but back-to-back steals by Kaitlyn Brannin resulted in points for the Vikings and a 10-6 lead it would not relinquish.
A baseline drive by Haywood and left-handed lay-in from Thompson stretched the cushion to 14-6 early in the second quarter, but Cotten answered with a three-pointer from top of the key and Azariah Fields assisted Michelle Jacobs to close the gap to three. That’s as close as New Hanover would get as Hoggard went on a 9-4 push to close the first half with a double-digit lead. Britt sank a pair of free throws in the final minute and assisted Barefoot at the buzzer for the 10-point cushion.
“We had one of our players out tonight because of injury and needed other players to step up,” Aw said. “The girls have bought into the mentality we want defensively and it showed as we had one less in the rotation.
“New Hanover has excellent guard play and I thought we did a good job of contesting shots and keeping them out of the paint.”
Barefoot finished in double figures with 10 points, while Thompson fouled out in the fourth quarter with five points and 12 rebounds. Tara Poteat chipped in with seven points.
Cotton had a team-high 11 points for New Hanover, who returns to the floor at Ashley on Friday, Jan. 15. Hoggard won’t get back into action until Friday, Jan. 22 with a road game against Laney.
Ashley 48 Laney 47
The Screaming Eagles nearly gave away a key Mideastern Conference contest as Laney rallied in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, but Dana Craig sank the game-winning layup with four seconds to play in overtime to lift Ashley in a 48-47 win at home on Tuesday night.
Trailing by double figures with less than three minutes to play in regulation, the Bucs got back to within striking distance and Lexi Melville knocked down a three-ball just before the buzzer to send it into the extra frame. Baley Edwards scored 13 of her team-high 15 points in the fourth quarter to aid the comeback.
Ashley went on a 7-0 run late in the first quarter to grab an 11-7 lead after the first quarter. They increased their advantage to 22-13 at the half as Laney struggled to keep possession through the opening 16 minutes of action, with 13 turnovers.
The Screaming Eagles moved to 3-1 in conference and 6-7 overall. Laney dropped to 2-2 in league play and 8-8 on the year.
Coastal Christian 57 Harrells Christian 49
Coastal Christian picked up a 57-49 win over Harrells Christian on Tuesday night to improve to 3-0 in conference play.
Three players scored in double figures for the Centurions, who moved to 10-5 overall. Sabrina Sims led all scorers with 19 points. Abby Parker added 16 points, while Sam Stanko chipped in with 14.