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Pushing the tempo, particularly after made shots and rebounds, is the preferred calling card of the Hunt High varsity girls basketball team.
Veteran Beddingfield head coach Debra Pegram is well aware of such. So when her inexperienced Lady Bruins responded in kind — even when Hunt didn’t have its pressure defense in place Friday night — Pegram did her best horseback riding impression to try to calm her bucking backcourt.
“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” she yelled more than once from the sideline.
It didn’t work.
With Hunt leading by 11 at halftime and Beddingfield junior post Makayla Everette enduring a bruise-filled third quarter, the Lady Bruins cut the deficit to nine before the 3-A Big East Conference Lady Warriors, by way of turnovers and second-chance baskets, went on a 17-0 run to close the quarter on the way to a 51-31 win.
Hunt (4-1), which outrebounded Beddingfield 37-21, produced eight points by way of putbacks off offensive rebounds in the third quarter and forced the Lady Bruins into more turnovers (34) than points. Beddingfield, representing the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference, remained winless through five games. The Lady Warriors led throughout, slapping the pressure on early to get the game’s first 10 points. Beddingfield, behind Everette’s work inside, recovered to trail by two, but Hunt lead 14-8 after one quarter and pushed the margin to 25-11 with under three minutes to play until halftime on a 3-pointer from junior Bria Griffith.
“We had a problem in the first half with our weak-side rebounding,” Hunt head coach Tiffany Parks said. “So we tried to adjust at halftime to get those put backs a little bit better. We basically won because of the press. The first quarter was the big lead that we just jumped on, and it was because of the pressure we did.”
Griffith and senior Tatiana Smith led the way with 15 points each for Hunt. Griffith, Hunt’s leading scorer and top defender, also led the Lady Warriors with eight rebounds and had five of Hunt’s 18 steals in the press.
“We were just trying to speed the ball up and play our game like we know how,” Griffith said. “Getting rebounds was one of our main focuses because we know they have tall bigs that can rebound.”
The 6-foot-3 Everette, who led all scorers with 20 points, was denied a double-double. But with collegiate eyes in attendance, including NCAA Division I North Carolina A&T, she tallied five blocks and five rebounds. Beddingfield’s two-point third quarter was a painful one for Everette, getting poked in the eye with just over two minutes remaining. She returned, only to be inadvertently take a knee to the head from junior teammate Shamya Best less than a minute later. But that didn’t keep her out either, as she came back and finished with an 8-for-11 showing from the free-throw line.
“We didn’t play particularly well (Thursday) night against Smithfield-Selma,” Pegram said. “But coming in here against Hunt, a very talented team and super athletic ability from top to bottom, I was proud of my girls. I thought they competed. We had a stretch there in the third quarter that things didn’t go our way, and they stretched out the lead on us. But overall, I thought we showed a lot of fight.”
Hunt’s lead reached as many as 27 on a layup from junior Dylia Lucas. The Lady Warriors protected the ball reasonably well despite pushing the pace, committing just 13 turnovers. In the third quarter, Hunt’s 17-0 run was largely fueled without Griffith’s presence after she picked up her fourth personal foul just 75 seconds into the second half attempting to guard Everette bringing the ball up the floor.
Foul trouble accumulated for Hunt in the second quarter as Griffith, Smith and junior Imani Sutton attempted to slow down Everette in the post. A 25-11 lead for the Lady Warriors slimmed to 10 on four Everette free throws, and Everette’s layup early in the third quarter brought the Lady Bruins within single digits for the final time at 27-18.
However, it was all Hunt after that once the scoring punch returned to the floor.
“We were in foul trouble,” Parks said. “So creatively substituting was the cause of the comeback. But once we got them back in, it wasn’t really a problem.”
Beddingfield will look for its first victory Monday night at home against Tarboro. Hunt visits Clayton on Tuesday.
Griffith 15, Jones 6, Thorpe, Harris, Carlton 2, Norris, Spells 4, Smith 15, Sutton 4, Lucas 5, Mercer.
Anderson 2, Fuller 2, Worsham, Dudley, Cooper 1, Hunter 1, Pope, Sherrod 5, Farmer, Best, Thomas, Everette 20, Shade.
Score by quarters:
Hunt 14 13 17 7 — 51
Beddingfield 8 8 2 13 — 31