02/25/05 — Aycock women eliminated in Round 2

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Aycock women eliminated in Round 2

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on February 25, 2005 2:09 PM

WINDSOR - Just at the brink of an upset.

Charles B. Aycock's women's basketball team crawled out of an early, second-period deficit to several times close within striking distance of defending eastern regional qualifier Bertie.

Each time, the home team had an answer as Bertie pulled away late to take a 68-50 win in the second round of the Class 3-A N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

The Golden Falcons, the Eastern Carolina Conference's second seed, concluded their year at 17-10 overall after a 1-6 start out of the gate.

"They always seemed to make a play when we got it close. The final score isn't indicative of this ball game at all," Aycock coach Gary Hales said. "It's a tough place to play, and I thought our girls came down here and played with heart. I'm glad we found it.

"I think we had some more fun tonight. The joy was back in the game and they had lost that against Smithfield-Selma."

The win sends Bertie, a team that lost just one senior off of its regional team last year, into the sectional championship on Saturday at home against Wilson Beddingfield.

The post presence of six-foot-one forward Jessica Breland and sizable center Ashley Speuer proved difficult down low for the visitors through the game. Breland finished with 17 points, numerous rebounds and a handful of blocks. Speuer was saddled with foul trouble for most of the game but did her fair share of damage on the glass.

"The lack of our size really hurt us. We made adjustments, and our players did what they could do," Hales said. "We would have needed more help down low with the officiating to combat their size."

The home-standing Falcons posted a 14-0 run to start the second period and rolled out to a 23-9 lead at the 5:45 mark of the second. Aycock steadily chipped away at the lead with point guard Quaneisha Milner finishing with six of her 12 points in the frame to help her team close the gap by six at halftime.

After intermission, Bertie's Tierra Perry, who finished with a game-best 23 points, knocked down two 3-pointers as the Northeastern Coastal Conference champs jumped back up by 11.

Still, Aycock never went away.

Keyata Pettiford finished with a team-best 13 points and went the length of the court after snagging a rebound -- capping a quick, 5-0 spurt that got the Bertie lead back down to a manageable, six at 43-37.

The visiting Falcons squandered three-straight possessions to cut into the lead even more, before Pettiford scored off of a steal to make it 43-39 at the six minute mark of the fourth. Needing a bigger push, Pettiford's basket proved to be Aycock's only points in the first three minutes of the final period.

Meanwhile, Perry scored six in the fourth as her teammates got to the foul line. In the last six minutes, Bertie outscored Aycock 25-11 -- making seven-of-14 from the stripe. Aycock shot just 14 free throws on the game, making six.

"We've been working on trying to get the girls to keep their composure. No matter what happens, keep your game," Bertie coach Alice Lyons-Bennett said. "We had a couple of girls step up at the right time. Perry and Breland have been doing that all year.

"The farther we go, the better the team is going to be, so they are going to have keep stepping it up."

The home team finished with 23 turnovers, including four in the first 2:30 minutes -- prompting Lyons-Bennett to call a timeout with her team trailing 4-2. Bertie went up 9-6 on a 3-pointer by Perry late in the period, before Aycock's Emily Stewart answered with a three-point play the hard way to tie the game.

From there, Bertie closed the first period on a 6-0 run to go up 15-9 after the end of the frame.

Alyssa Dobbin, Danielle Street, Lela Reid and Pettiford played in their final games for the Golden Falcons.

"They were leaders that I haven't had since the 01-02 season. They would get the girls ready on the bus and the locker room," Hales said. "It was like having four more coaches. From where we started to where we are now ... these girls and our coaching staff has worked really hard.

"When you surround yourself with good people, good things are going to happen."