Farmville Central overcomes Lady Panthers in Carolina 1-A final
By Neil Fuller
Published in Sports on February 20, 2005 2:00 AM
MOUNT OLIVE - Meaghan Vanderhorst obviously understood how much was on the line Friday night at College Hall.
Vanderhorst scored eight of her team-leading 17 points in the third quarter as Farmville Central claimed the Class 1-A Carolina Conference tournament title -- and the league's No. 1 NCHSAA playoff seed -- with a 56-51 win over North Johnston.
Farmville Central (22-2) shared the Carolina 1-A regular-season championship with the Lady Panthers. There would be no such generosity this time around.
Vanderhorst scored on a driving layup in the final minute of the third quarter to give the Lady Jaguars the lead for good, and a Kim Zullo 3-pointer put North Johnston in a 40-36 hole heading into the final period.
The Lady Panthers (18-7) scored the final five points in the first half to take a 27-22 lead into the break.
"I thought the biggest thing all night was for us to believe," North Johnston coach David Bagwell said. "I was glad we had that little run (at the end of the first half). We just wanted to hang in there. We talked about our offensive possessions at halftime, trying to be more sure. Our guards got caught up top with the ball several times with no place to go, and that hurt us."
Helen Moore led three North Johnston players in double-figure scoring with a game-high 25 points -- 10 coming in the fourth quarter as an attempted comeback fell short. Lakisha McFadden hit four 3-pointers to finish with 14 points.
The tournament crown gives Farmville Central a first-round bye in the NCHSAA playoffs. The Lady Jaguars will face the winner of Tuesday night's matchup between the No. 3 seeds from the Super Six and Coastal Plains conferences.
"Showing that we are the best team in the conference is something I'm sure was in the back of our players' minds coming in," Farmville Central coach Denitra Hayes said. "But the most important thing was getting that No. 1 playoff seed and the first-round bye. That's far more important than trying to prove who was better during the regular season."
Megan Zullo, who had 15 points, converted 4-of-6 free-throw attempts in the final seconds to help Farmville Central hold on.
North Johnston will host the fifth seed from the Tar Roanoke 1-A on Tuesday night in a first-round playoff game after committing 12 second-half turnovers against the Lady Jaguars.
"We just had a few too many turnovers," Bagwell said. "That, and we left (Vanderhorst) open on her jump shots too often."
Notes: Farmville Central is leaving the Carolina 1-A to join the Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference next season. ... Farmville Central and North Johnston split the regular-season series with each team winning on its home court. ... Amanda Pope scored 10 points after suffering what was believed to be a mild concussion in a semifinal win over Rosewood. ... Moore was 3-of-7 from the free-throw line.
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