02/19/09 — Warriors slide past Saints

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Warriors slide past Saints

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on February 19, 2009 1:46 PM

DUDLEY -- Southern Wayne played a waiting game with Wilson Hunt during semifinal-round play of the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference girls' basketball tournament Wednesday evening.

But the Saints waited too long.

Hunt jumped out to a double-digit lead in the opening minutes and poured on the offense throughout the first half en route to a 71-55 victory.

"We couldn't do anything right in the first half," said Southern Wayne head coach Ricky Lofton. "When you get down 28 points in the first half, it's too hard to come back."

The Warriors led 42-15 at the break.

After halftime, Southern Wayne got back to doing the things that made them successful during the ECC regular season. The Saints pounded the ball inside to Kayla Powell and Clarice Sherard as they began to cut into the sizable lead.

Lynnesha Leonard took over in the fourth quarter.

The senior leader tallied 15 of her team-high 23 points in the final eight minutes and sparked a 15-0 Saints run with four minutes to play. During that span, Leonard scored 13 of the team's 15 points.

"It all started with getting the ball into the paint like we practiced," Lofton said. "Once we made some shots, things started going our way."

Southern Wayne closed within 13 points but ran out of time as the Warriors buried foul shots in the final minute.

"If we could have played the whole game like we played the last five minutes things might have been different," said Lofton. "You can't take anything from Hunt, they played a good game."

The Saints (10-16 overall) were paced by Leonard's 23 points. Kayla Powell added 13 points and 13 rebounds. Sherard finished with 14 points.

Shanita Creech paced the Warriors (18-5) with 19 points. Quilla Parker chipped in 18 points and 12 rebounds. Kiana Love and Erica Arrington added eight points apiece.

Southern Wayne returns to action Friday against county archrival Eastern Wayne to decide a regular-season tiebreaker. The victor gets the league's No. 3 seed, while the loser drops to No. 4.

Tip-off is 4:30 p.m. at Kinston.