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Still without the services of its leading scorer (junior Bailey Davis), the visiting SouthWest Edgecombe varsity girls basketball team sputtered at times against an improving Beddingfield squad in 2-A Eastern Plains Conference action Friday night.
However, 5-foot-10 junior Brytiana Jenkins stepped up with a career-high 16 points to lead the Lady Cougars to a 48-38 victory in coming off a 90-51 loss to undefeated Farmville Central earlier in the week.
Beddingfield, coming off a conference win against Nash Central, dipped to 1-3 in the league and to 3-13 in all games.
Jenkins heeded a pregame challenge to step up from assistant Lady Cougars coach Delphine Mabry, a superstar during her SouthWest career.
“She has been improving,” Mabry said, “and I told her this was her opportunity. We have been looking for a fifth scorer and she needed to step up.”
“That’s the best she has played all year,” said appreciative SouthWest head coach Sandra Langley of Jenkins. “We have seen the potential and she wants to play. She came up with some big baskets and caused a lot of problems on defense with her height.”
Despite early foul woes for starters Jada Battle,a sophomore, and junior Adrian McKinney, the Lady Cougars, behind Jenkins, managed a 23-19 halftime lead. Beddingfield stayed close as 6-2 junior Makayla Everette got scoring help from junior Aa’Niyah Sherrod.
“We couldn’t let them come out,” Langley explained of not benching Battle and McKinney. “We had to take the risk.
The Lady Bruins stayed close until SouthWest responded with a 9-0 run to end the third quarter behind Battle, 6-foot sophomore Alonee Smallwood, McKinney and sophomore Nanasja Dunn.
Everette found the range on jumpers and shots underneath to close the deficit to 44-36 in the final quarter. But the Lady Bruins experienced four empty possessions and Battle’s runner with just under two minutes left about sealed the outcome at 46-36.
“We are getting better,” Beddingfield head coach Debra Pegram agree, “but we have got to bet better quicker. We’ve got to have more people than Makayla. But we’ve got mighty young people making big decisions. We are getting better defensively, but we’ve got to get even more aggressive.”
Everette recorded another double-double of 22 points and 13 rebounds. Sherrod grabbed six rebounds.
“It has been tough,” Everette commented of the Lady Bruins’ plight. “We’re young and have to be patient. We have to learn each other’s weaknesses and strengths.”
Everette hopes she has stepped up her game.
“I have tried to become more aggressive and become more of a leader,” she noted. “I’m having a better year than last year. We have to learn to play together as a team, move the ball better and create better shots.”
Next up for the Lady Bruins is Farmville Central.
“It’s been hard,” Everette assured, “but I have to push through it if we want to win some games. We’ll come back the next game, try to do our best and win the next game.”
SouthWest’s Jenkins was complemented by Battle with 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Smallwood grabbed 13 rebounds.
Pegram coached herself nearly to the point of exhaustion.
“I hate to lose,” Pegram said. “And I know we can beat this team; I don’t care what their record is. With the exception of Farmville Central, this league is up for grabs.”
Langley commended Beddingfield’s improvement, adding: “It’s always a good win at Beddingfield. Their gym is so much bigger. Beddingfield always plays us tough.”
Battle nodded her head in agreement, saying: Beddingfield always tries to play us hard.”
SOUTHWEST EDGECOMBE (48)
Dunn 4, J. Battle 14, Smallwood 3, A. McKinney 5, Jenkins 16, Moody 3.
Anderson 2, Dudley 2, Cooper 5, Pope, Sherrod 3, Best 4, Thomas, Everette 2.
Score by quarters:
SW Edgecombe 13 10 16 9 — 48
Beddingfield 12 7 8 11 — 38