When you hit a rut in sports, sometimes the best thing for a team is to step away from the game to refocus. Following a disappointing performance earlier this week, the Hoggard girls’ basketball team took the day off before getting back to Mideasern Conference play on Friday.
The time away was just what the Vikings needed as Hoggard used contributions from up and down the lineup in a 52-41 victory against New Hanover.
“After the way we lost on Tuesday night we were pretty down,” said Hoggard Coach Boubacar Aw. “I’m really proud of the girls for the way we battled tonight. The best way sometimes is to take a step back. The grind of a season can be mentally exhausting and I thought we needed a day. We haven’t been enjoying the game and I thought tonight we got back to having fun and playing with passion.”
It was the Vikings’ third win over their rival this season, improving to 10-2 in conference and 19-5 overall. The Wildcats saw their five-game winning streak come to a close, dropping to 10-2 in the division and 17-6 on the year.
Three players finished in double figures for Hoggard, including team captains Emma Haywood and Aleah Thompson. Haywood drained two treys, went 6 of 6 from the charity stripe and finished with a team-high 18 points. Thompson recorded a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds, while freshman Blair Barefoot chipped in with 10.
The Vikings went 17 of 33 from the field and 12-for-15 from the free throw line.
“We’re at our best when everyone is playing a role,” Aw added. “It’s called a team sport for a reason and not just one or two people. Our energy was much better tonight. We pushed ourselves and a gut check tonight.”
With the game tied at 10 late in the first quarter, Hoggard went on a 7-1 spurt to grab a 17-11 advantage. Kaitlyn Brannin saw her first action in a few weeks since going down with an injury and came off the bench to grab a big steal on the final possession of the opening period. The turnover resulted in fast break points for Haywood and a six-point lead.
Azariah Fields knocked down one of two treys with 1:40 left in the first half to pull New Hanover to within six, but Haywood responded from long range to put the Vikings in front, 39-30.
Thompson made her presence felt throughout the second half, with an offensive rebound and put back along with two free throws on consecutive possessions early in the third quarter. Haywood dished her third assist to Keeley Britt for her only field goal of the game to extend the cushion to 37-25 before Ayonna Cotton cut the deficit to 10 at the 3:06 mark.
An offensive rebound and put back by Alani Fisher gave Hoggard its largest lead of the game, 47-33, with two minutes gone by in the fourth quarter.
Fields led the Wildcats with 18 points and Amani Muhammad added 12, with six rebounds and three steals.
With one game left in the regular season, Hoggard and New Hanover are now tied for top spot in league standings. If both teams hold serve in their season finale, the Vikings would claim No. 1 seed at the conference tournament by holding the tiebreaker over its crosstown foes.
Laney 38 Ashley 35
Trailing by eight at the break, Laney pulled to within three headed into the fourth quarter and grabbed a 38-35 result against Ashley on Friday night.
Baley Edwards knocked down her first field goal of the game with 4:30 left in the final frame on a three-point basket to put the Bucs in front, 32-31. Lola Lovitt answered later in the period with a tough shot from behind the arc to keep it a two-point deficit, but Laney weathered the last second flurry to pick up the win.
Lexi Melville scored 12 of her team-high 14 points in the second half, including a pair of shorts from long range. Edwards added nine points and Anna Rae Porcelli chipped in with eight.
Lovitt had five points in the opening period to give the Screaming Eagles a 10-5 lead in the first quarter. Carly Baron got into the scoring column with eight points in the first half to stretch their advantage to 20-12 at halftime.
Laney moved to 7-3 in conference and 13-9 on the year. Ashley fell to 6-5 in the division and 9-10 overall.
West Brunswick 42 South Brunswick 37
North Brunswick 62 Dixon 50
Taylor Perkins dropped 30 points and Unique Hines added 15 in the win.