Ayonna Cotten and Azariah Fields led a fourth quarter surge as the New Hanover girls basketball team grabbed a 52-42 victory over Ashley on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats improved to 10-2 in the division and 17-6 overall. Meanwhile, Ashley fell to 6-5 in conference and 9-11 on the year.
Trailing by four headed into the final stanza, New Hanover went on a 15-3 push approaching the midway point of the period and outscored Screaming Eagles 21-7 during the eight minute frame.
Cotten led all scorers with a game-high 22 points, connecting on 4 of 5 from beyond the arc. Fields put in an all-around effort at point guard with 17 points, four assists, four rebounds and four steals.
“We played a better second half and got it a little more than we did early,” said New Hanover Coach Vertha Dixon-Wright. “It’s a good win and I was glad to see us finish strong.”
An assist from Fields to Kaleigh Merrell for her first and only field goal gave the Wildcats its largest lead of the game, 48-38, before Morgan Carpenter cut the deficit to eight with a layup on the next possession.
That’s as close as the Screaming Eagles would get as Michelle Jacobs knocked down a baseline jumper with 2:18 to play, while Fields sank a pair of free throws in the final minute to close out the result.
“The second quarter has been our strongest quarter all season and tonight it seemed like we were a little hesitant early, but really pushed things to start the fourth quarter,” Dixon-Wright added. “We were in a situation tonight were we needed a strong second half and we got it. Ayonna and Azariah had to play tonight because of some foul trouble and they need to be big if we’re going to be successful to finish the year.”
Lola Lovitt scored seven points during a 10-0 run early in the second half and Carly Baron drained her only three-pointer of the game to give Ashley a 31-25 advantage nearing the four-minute mark of the third period. A drive to the basket by Fields and four points by Cotten late in the quarter kept it a two-possession game heading to the final act.
Dana Craig had a team-high 10 points for the Screaming Eagles, while Lovitt added seven. Craig kept Ashley in the game through much of the first half and a 6-0 spurt just before the break pulled Screaming Eagles to within two following a basket and one by Angel Smith.
The Screaming Eagles had eight different players in the scoring column, but the Wildcats held a 27-17 advantage in rebounds. Both teams committed 20 turnovers, with four lead changes and three ties. New Hanover went 8-for-11 from the free throw line and 6 of 9 from three-point range.
“We’ll take the next few days at practice to really focus in on certain things each day and try to put it all together staring next week,” Dixon-Wright said. “
New Hanover earned at least a share of the regular season league title and wait for the winner of Hoggard and Laney’s matchup on Thursday to learn its seed for the upcoming conference tournament.
Laney 49 South Brunswick 26
Baley Edwards led all scorers with 15 points for Laney. Anna Porcelli chipped in with 10 points. Both were honored during their final home game, joining classmates Jayda Malone and Kirstie Langley to be recognized on senior night.
The Bucs moved to 8-3 in conference and 14-9 overall. The Bucs will have a No. 3 seed in the Mideastern Conference Tournament set for Feb. 15-19 at Brunswick Community College.
West Brunswick 52 Topsail 46
Northside 65 North Brunswick 58
Jada Bellamy had 19 points for North Brunswick.