Patriot Girls Come Up Big in Crunch Time
The fourth quarter performance by the Pinecrest girls in Friday night's basketball game against Douglas Byrd was hardly a work of art.
That mattered little to an excited group of Patriot players that made the clutch plays required in the final minute to grab a much-needed 59-53 victory.
Karmen Spencer led the winners with 25 points, 13 of them coming in a 26-point third quarter that helped the Patriots establish a 13-point lead. Coach Alvita Thomas's squad ended a two-game losing skid, improving to 2-5 in the Mid-Southeastern Conference and 6-10 overall.
The Patriots were coming off last week's game against Seventy-First when they scored only five points in the second half. In an earlier game against Byrd, they led by six points at halftime, but lost by 12.
"After the last game (Seventy-First)," Thomas said, "I told them we can never have another game like that and expect to win anything. Tonight they turned it up and played like they can. I'm so proud of them because they finished."
Also providing fuel for the third quarter explosion were Ashleigh McKenzie and Alisha Jones. With the Patriots leading 34-29, Spencer scored seven points in a row. Then McKenzie fed Jones for a three to complete a 10-2 spree that put the Pats in front 44-31.
"You could feel we were a whole different team out there, playing together and not as individuals," Spencer said.
The Patriots watched what remained of the big lead almost evaporate when the Eagles scored 10 of the first 12 points in the fourth quarter to draw within one point at 52-51.
The turnover bug that has plagued them all season was rearing its ugly head again.
A long two by McKenzie, who finished with 12 points, got the lead back to three with 2:20 remaining.
"I just felt it so I took it," the junior guard said. "It was my turn to step up and do something to help the team win."
After the Eagles' Jackie Ivery cut the lead back to one, the Patriots scored the final five points of the game, including a key put-back by Ivory Ferguson.
Spencer, who also contributed eight rebounds and five steals, was ecstatic about the win.
"Me and my team talked about passing the ball, taking open shots and not being afraid," she said. "We worked together and we got the win."
Jones finished with 13 points, including two threes for Pinecrest. Shemilla Suleman led the Eagles (6-12, 2-6) with 14 points.
The Patriots were scheduled to entertain Westover on Saturday.
They travel to Scotland County on Tuesday.
Contact Charlie Bergmann by e-mail at email@example.com.
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