CCC Tourney: Lady Eagles upset second-seeded Spartans
East Davidson girls coach Don Corry and Lexington girls coach Lamont Johnson came to an agreement last week when a drawing was held to determine seeding for the Central Carolina Conference tournament.
They both held up their end of the deal.
Following fourth-seeded Lexington’s win over Thomasville Wednesday, the No. 3 seed Golden Eagles knocked off two-seed Central Davidson 47-40 Thursday, setting up a showdown in the finals Friday at Lexington that will give the winner a home playoff game.
“When we had the draw last week and I drew the third seed and Lamont drew the four, he looked at me and said, ‘Let’s settle this Friday night to see who gets the better seed.’ I said okay, and here we are both of us in the final,” said Corry.
Things were tilting in favor of the Spartans who were up 29-25 third quarter following two McKenzie Burkhart 3-pointers. But control shifted in a big way when talented East freshman Bayley Plummer made her presence known. She dumped in 12 points during the third, putting the Eagles up 37-33 with eight minutes left.
“I think Bayley put us on her shoulders in the third quarter,” said Corry. “She told the girls she’d work harder to get open and she did. She was a beast.”
Central stayed within reach and regained the lead at the 4:50 mark on a Jordan Chavis trey to put CDHS back on top, 40-39. The nets fell silent over the next three minutes until Ariel Grimsley came up with the game’s biggest play. Grimsley picked off a Spartan pass and broke loose in the open floor. She almost took the ball too far under the basket, but was able to get the layup to go that provided the game’s final lead change.
“That was real big,” Corry said. “She was nervous taking it into the basket. Great job on her part.”
Central would not score again with the Eagles hitting six free throws to close.
After the struggles the Eagles have endured the last month, it was a pleasant surprise to Corry to see his group of ladies put themselves in position to win the conference tournament.
“They believe in themselves more now than they did,” said Corry. “We went through a spell there where we were just down and did not have much confidence. They have it now and they believe in themselves.”
Plummer finished with 22 points to go with 19 rebounds. Madi Hallman added 10.
East Davidson’s boys seemed to be living right in their CCC semifinal matchup with third-seeded Lexington. In a matter of 8.3 seconds, the good life turned into a nightmare.
Lexington scored six points over that remaining time to shock the second-seeded Golden Eagles 48-46, bumping East out of a first round home playoff game in the state playoffs next week.
Having trailed by six in the fourth period, East battled back and snatched the lead away with two minutes left on Braxton Shetley’s 3-pointer to go up 44-42. Lexington could not make a dent in the deficit, and East’s Andy Chaney secured a rebound after three missed shots by the Jackets to visit the line for a one-and-one. His first with 27.9 seconds left was good, but his second drew right iron. Nathan Campbell chased down the rebound and was fouled that sent him to the line. He missed, but the luck of the Eagles continued on as Chaney grabbed the board and was fouled again. He made the first shot to make it 46-42, but the second missed and Lexington secured the ball this time.
After Chaney’s block out of bounds, Mel Covington hit a hotly contested deep 3 to bring the Jackets back to within one. On the ensuing inbound, Daniel Reid Bennett stole the ball away and hoisted up a shot. It sailed over the rim but he followed the shot and got his own rebound. The putback attempt failed as well, but Nolan Benson flew through the air to snatch the board. He promptly went back up and kissed the ball off the backboard for the hoop with 2.3 seconds to go, suddenly and improbably putting LHS ahead.
East still had plenty of time to get the ball down the floor for a shot, but Campbell’s long pass was knocked down by the rafters and possession was awarded to the Jackets. Benson was fouled and hit his first free throw. His second was off target and Campbell tried one last desperation heave that sailed high of the goal.
“When it came down to getting rebounds to win the game, they got three and we got none,” said East coach Matt Jacobs. “They hit that fluke 3, that we had covered. Then all of a sudden we are hoping to win the game instead of thinking we are going to win it. That was the difference.”
Matthew Johnson led East with 15 points, while Taylor Booze had 13 and Chaney 10.