No. 1 Hoggard 49 No. 2 New Hanover 35
After a 17-point performance the night before, Alani Fisher dropped 21 points-including five treys-to help guide the Hoggard girls’ basketball team to its second straight Mideastern Conference Tournament Title following a 49-35 victory against New Hanover on Friday.
The junior transfer went 7 of 10 from the field and 5-for-7 from beyond the arc. She scored 11 points during a decisive second quarter push as the Vikings defeated their crosstown foes for the fourth time this season, improving to 21-5 overall.
“It hasn’t been easy this season, but you have to give it to the girls,” said Hoggard Coach Boubacar Aw. “They’ve really worked hard. I’m a really tough coach and they bought in. I’m so proud of them, especially my seniors. Everyone is believing.”
Hoggard shot 68 percent in the first half and grabbed a 13-7 advantage after the opening period. Ayonna Cotton tied the game three-all with one of two three-pointers, but the Vikings scored the game’s next six points, including a baseline jumper from Emma Haywood and dish from Haywood to Mia Boone for a mid-range shot.
Fisher came off the bench late in the first stanza to record a two-point bucket, while Ellison Louthan got a put back to fall just before the buzzer for the two-possession lead.
A 13-0 run by Hoggard over a three-minute stretch during the second quarter pushed the cushion to 26-11 thanks to a pair of three-pointers by Fisher, along with a basket and one by Blair Barefoot in transition.
Fisher sank three shots from long range during the period and Tara Poteat got a left-handed runner to fall just before the break to take a 32-13 edge at halftime.
“We played really well as a team tonight,” said Fisher. “We all came together, played with our hearts and our chemistry is coming together. I like coming off the bench fresh and bringing energy to the game. We’ve just got to keep our mojo, keep working and I think we’ll be solid.”
Seven different players recorded at least two points for Hoggard, who have a home game to start the 4A state playoffs on Tuesday, Feb. 23. Haywood finished with five points and seven rebounds, while Poteat chipped in with seven. The Vikings also out-rebounded New Hanover, 26-15. Thompson had six points and six boards.
“It’s a great feeling to go back-to-back,” Haywood added. “We’ve been working really hard and this has been our goal all season. Everyone is on the same page and we need to continue that.”
Cotten scored a team-high eight points for the Wildcats. Kayleigh Merrell added seven to go along with six points apiece for Amani Muhammad and Michell Jacobs. However, New Hanover struggled to find the bottom of the net, shooting 22 percent from the field.
The Wildcats dropped to 19-7 on the year and await their seed for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Tournament.