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Playing pretty in pink, the Wilson Christian Academy varsity girls basketball seized the championship of the school’s holiday tournament, the Charger Christmas Classic, for the first time since 2015 on Saturday afternoon.
Wearing new, bright pink uniforms to promote breast cancer awareness, the Lady Chargers dominated the second half in conquering Faith Christian of Rocky Mount, 61-33.
Wilson Christian of the North Carolina Christian School Association 2-A ranks upped its record to 8-3 in the 17th annual tournament, while Faith Christian of the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 2-A division dropped to 6-2.
WCA, despite a poor performance, defeated Gospel Light in Friday’s semifinals, while the Lady Patriots triumphed against Alamance Christian, which won the third-place game earlier Saturday.
Of again winning its tournament, WCA head coach Brian Trull responded: “It was important for us to come back and play better than last night. We were really bad. Today, we played like the team I know we can be. If we play like this consistently, we’ll be hard to beat.”
And Lady Chargers senior guard Ashley Hartsfield simply stood out in pink in being proclaimed the most valuable player.
Hitting on a career-best seven 3-pointers (in a single game), Hartsfield poured in a game- and tournament-high 25 points — matching her career high — to go with three rebounds, two assists and two steals. An eighth-grader on the 2015 title team, Hartsfield connected on 7-of-13 shots from 3-point range.
In the two games, she amassed 37 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Hartsfield was joined on the all-tournament team by senior teammates Madison Carnes and Olivia Vick, Faith’s Logan Ayers and Olivia Bowling and Alamance’s Payton Fincannon. Hartsfield downplayed the MVP accolade.
“I’m glad we could win (the tournament) my senior year,” Hartsfield commented. “If it wasn’t for the players with me, I wouldn’t have been able to play like I did. I just liked how we all worked together.”
The Lady Chargers saw a 17-11 lead after the first quarter dwindle to 25-23 at halftime. But WCA erupted for a 22-2 scoring advantage in the third quarter as Hartsfield knocked down four of her 3-pointers and scored 14 points.
“Ashley went off on us in the third quarter,” observed Faith head coach Taylor Whitley. “Once she hit a couple, we folded a little bit, stopped getting out to her and stopped moving our feet. Her teammates found her really well once she got the hot hand.”
Trull noted: “For the most part, we made the right pass. And the right pass happened to be to Ashley.”
WCA snapped a 5-5 tie on a basket each from Kate Hoskins and Vick and a free throw from Kayla Tant to claim a 10-5 lead it wouldn’t relinquish. With the Lady Chargers leading 12-9, Hartsfield drained a 3 and Tant sank a layup for a 17-9 cushion.
Faith’s Ayers, a senior, tied the score for the final time at 23-23 with a pair of free throws. WCA then took a 25-23 edge into intermission on Tant’s two free throws with 2.8 seconds showing.
After the third-quarter outburst, the Lady Patriots drew as close as 47-30 before Wilson Christian put the game away with a 12-1 spree.
Ayers paced Faith with 13 points, while sophomore Clair Nicholson scored eight.
For the Lady Chargers, Vick contributed eight points and Tant seven. Vick supplied six rebounds and six assists.
Trull and Hartsfield agreed the Lady Chargers responded with their best performance of 2019-20.
WCA shot 22 of 51 from the floor for 43% accuracy and 9 of 22 from 3-point territory (41%), Twenty-three of the 28 rebounds were defensive and assists were recorded on 16 of the 22 field goals.
Of Hartsfield, Trull said: “The main difference with Ashley is her willingness to take the 3-pointer. And she is also more willing to drive in and take the shot.”
“Maybe I have gained confidence,” Hartsfield reasoned with a smile.
FAITH CHRISTIAN (33)
Ayers 13, N. Nicholson, Bowling 5, Mascarenhas 5, C. Nicholson 8, Strofe, Pridgen, Hamlett.
WILSON CHRISTIAN (61)
Carnes 4, Tant 7, Petty 2, Hartsfield 25, Vick 8, Parker 3, Mass, Nesbit 5, Hoskins 5, Willard, Provo, Barnes 2.
Score by quarters:
Faith Christian 11 12 2 8 — 33
WCA 17 8 22 14 — 61