02/26/12 — Statesville knocks out WCDS girls

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Statesville knocks out WCDS girls

By From staff reports
Published in Sports on February 26, 2012 1:52 AM

RALEIGH -- The ocean became too wide and too deep for Wayne Country Day on Friday evening.

The Chargers just couldn't navigate their way back to shore.

Abby Baity torched the nets for 23 second-half points and seventh-seeded Statesville stunned Wayne Country Day, 49-41, in semifinal-round action of the 2012 N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A girls' basketball playoffs. The Lions (18-9 overall) claimed their first postseason triumph over WCDS in three meetings since 2009.

His head bowed in his hands, Chargers head coach Eric Perry took a deep breath. Disappointment shrouded his face and misty eyes remained where tears had flowed freely in the locker room.

"I don't feel bad for myself," Perry said. "Those two girls, Mack (Thompson) and Cat (Ford), they're the reasons I'm here coaching. I watched those young ladies grow up. I wanted the win not for me, I am still going to have to go to work Monday morning, but for them because it's their senior year."

Ford and Thompson are the first-ever Wayne Country Day senior class in the women's basketball program to appear in four consecutive NCISAA final fours. The duo helped lead the Chargers to the 2009 state crown, a runner-up finish in 2010 and a final four trip last season. They posted a career record of 74-30 overall, including an 11-3 worksheet in the playoffs.

WCDS (15-7) seemed destined to appear in its third championship game in the last four years until it went stone cold from the field, and Ford got into foul trouble.

The sixth-seeded Chargers led 20-11 at halftime despite missing their final seven shots from the floor. Ashanti Hardy buried two consecutive 3-pointers to open the game, while Sarah Best (11 rebounds, four assists), Hannah Pearson (10 rebounds) and Thompson also contributed in the scoring column.

Ford drew her third and fourth fouls within a 21/2-minute stretch in the third quarter, and the shoreline slowly begin to fade in the distance as the Chargers lost their co-captain. WCDS went nine-plus minutes without a field goal and Statesville, which upset Tarheel Independent champ Hobgood on Friday, seized the momentum with a 17-4 third-quarter outburst.

Baity's 3-pointer off Kadijah Watts' assist gave the Lions their first lead, 24-22, with less than a minute left in the third period. WCDS pulled within 25-24 on Thompson's layup off Best's assist, but would get no closer.

Baity drained Statesville's first three field goals of the fourth quarter and the small contingent of Lions' fans roared their approval. Baity converted seven field goals in the second half, while Statesville hit just 15 as a team for the game.

"We just didn't play smart on defense," Perry said. "We didn't identify shooters, we acted like we had forgotten who the shooters were. Not only were they knocking down shots to their credit, but they were wide-open shots. They had time to settle.

"I have no answer for it."

Ford returned to the floor and single-handedly pulled the Chargers to within three points on two occasions in the final period. Watts' offensive putback and Baity's uncontested layup stretched the lead to 39-32 and Statesville secured the program's first-ever championship-game berth from the free throw line.