10/27/10 — Golden Demons squeak by Warriors

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Golden Demons squeak by Warriors

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 27, 2010 1:46 PM

Fike earned the critical point ... again.

Amber Burner emerged victorious at No. 5 singles and sparked the Golden Demons to a 5-4 victory over Eastern Wayne in second-round action of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A dual-team tennis playoffs on Tuesday afternoon.

It was Fike's third straight one-point decision over the Warriors this season.

"I wish the third time had been the charm for me," said Eastern Wayne head coach Kelly Hoff. "I knew we had to split in singles, go 3-3, and we didn't. It's not been the same spots, but (the losses) have rotated spots all three times we've played them.

"That's the way the cards fall, I guess."

The Golden Demons' top three players -- seniors Mallory Short, Meredith Pruden and Sarah Flinn -- combined to lose just six games in three straight-set, singles wins.

Burner's 6-3, 6-2 triumph over the Warriors' Amber Miller at the No. 5 spot gave Fike the boost it needed heading into doubles.

"I've been waiting all year for Amber to win a big match," said Golden Demons head coach Lee Matthews. "I told her when she walked off the court that she picked a heckuva time to play her best match of the year. She was beaming from ear to ear."

Eastern Wayne senior Joann Talton stopped Anna-Claire Summerlin 6-2, 6-0 at the No. 4 spot. Teammate Jackie Johnson prevailed 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 over Emma Jane Proctor at No. 6.

Fike's tandem of Short-Pruden, who won the east regional doubles title just four days ago, clinched the match with a 10-1 decision over Eastern Wayne's Miller Delbridge-Miller at No. 1.

The Warriors' Janielle Daniel-Talton, who will play in the state tournament on Friday, and teammates Grace Delbridge-Johnson each seized a doubles point. Delbridge-Johnson led 8-3 when darkness fell and Matthews conceded the match.

"They deserved it," said Hoff, whose team concluded the year 18-5 overall. "Fike came to win and they did. I feel like when it gets to this point (in the season), it's your bottom (lineup) that carries you further into the playoffs."

The loss marked the end of dual-team careers for six seniors -- Miller Delbridge, Daniel, Talton, Miller, Morgan Jeffreys and Jenna Martin. The group finished state runner-up in 2007, east runner-up in 2008, won four consecutive Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference championships and compiled a sparkling 66-11 record.

Fike (16-5) continues its playoff journey Tuesday at Charles B. Aycock. The Golden Falcons, the ECC runners-up each of the past four seasons, shut out D.H. Conley 6-0.

"We always seem to have a burner with Eastern Wayne. That's the way it's been all year," said Matthews. "You get away from it and you actually feel lucky that it's over with. The matches are so tight. I'm relieved that this one is over."