Coming off a forgettable performance against the Bucs a few weeks back, the Hoggard girls’ basketball team broke away from Laney late in the first half to earn a share of the Mideastern Conference regular season crown following a 40-20 result on senior night.
The Vikings shot a dismal 19 percent from the floor in Buctown on Jan. 22, but Hoggard used a balanced scoring attack in the season finale, connecting on 11 of 31 field goal attempts from inside the arc.
“The shots we made today, we missed them at Laney,” said Hoggard Coach Boubacar Aw. “Sometimes you are going to make shots and sometimes you are going to miss them, but we also had a good defensive effort every day and that was the difference.”
Trailing 10-8 after the opening period, the Vikings held Laney to just 10 points over the next 24 minutes of play to secure a first-round bye and No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
Seniors Emma Haywood and Aleah Thompson played a big role in the effort. Thompson shared team-high honors with Alani Fisher as both players finished with eight points. Haywood had seven points, seven rebounds and six assists.
“Today was a very emotional day for me,” Aw said. “My two seniors Emma and Aleah, I call them my queens, have been with me here since the first day I got the job. It has been a roller coaster ride for me. I was very proud and very sad at the same time, because after this year I am not going to get to coach these two girls.”
Lexi Melville sank back-to-back buckets late in the first quarter to give Laney a 10-4 lead, but the sophomore picked up her second foul 30 seconds later and spent the entire second period on the bench in foul trouble. The Bucs struggled to find offense after that point and Hoggard went on an 11-0 push to gain some breathing room at the break.
An assist from Haywood to Thompson sparked the push and tied the game 14-all. Fisher sank back-to-back treys on the next two possessions, while Mia Boone drained a three-ball from the corner at the buzzer to close the run with a 23-14 advantage at halftime.
Laney had a scoring drought of nearly 10 minutes heading through the third quarter as Hoggard pulled away in the second half.
“We remember how great it felt last year and we worked really hard this year to get back,” Haywood said.
Hoggard finished the regular season 10-2 in conference and 19-5 overall. The Vikings received top seed in the Mideastern Conference Tournament by virtue of a tiebreaker after sweeping New Hanover this season.
Laney dropped to 7-4 in the division and 13-10 on the year. The conference tournament gets underway at Brunswick Community College on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
Ashley 39 West Brunswick 25
Ashley grabbed a bounce back, 39-25 victory at home against West Brunswick on Friday.
Lola Lovitt had nine points, while Dana Craig and Carly Baron added seven apiece.
Topsail 71 South Brunswick 44
Dominique Bryant had 19 points and seven rebounds to lead Topsail in a 71-44 win against South Brunswick. Keri White added 12 points and eight boards in the result.