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Lady Cats hold off Tigers to advance

Stephanie King

The post season is officially here as teams across the county opened conference tournament play on Monday. The Eastern Randolph Lady Cougars hosted the Randleman Lady Tigers in the first round of the 2018 PAC-7 Girls Basketball Tournament. Eastern Randolph came in as the three seed after finishing the regulars season 6-6 in conference play and 8-15 overall. Randleman came in as the six seed with a conference record of 2-9 and an overall record of 3-16.

Taylor Hatchett got the Wildcats going early as she laid one in off the glass. Emma Marlow scored off a pass from Megan Cottrell minutes later to tie the game at 2 all. Hatchett continued to be the go-to player for the Wildcats as she scored back to back buckets to give Eastern Randolph a 6-2 lead. Alecia Johnson brought the Tigers back within one midway through the quarter with a three from the left elbow. Lilly Whitaker scored off a floater to put the Wildcats in front 8-5, but Randleman’s Taylor Deaton scored on a drive to cut the lead to one by the end of the quarter. After one quarter of play, Eastern Randolph led 8-7.

This started slowly in the second quarter as neither team could score until about two minutes in. The Wildcats would be the first to score as Marion Goins knocked down one of two at the free throw line. Randleman got going with a 6-0 run to take their first lead of the night at 13-9. Kristen Sutphin picked up three points the old-fashioned way, while Deaton drained a three from the right corner to give the Tigers the lead. Eastern Randolph could not stay behind for long as they answered with a 10-0 for a 19-13 lead. Savannah Beaver, Aniyah King, Goins, and Tehya Jordan each scored during the run by the Wildcats. Deaton would end the run for the Tigers with a free throw just before the end of the quarter. The Wildcats would take a 19-14 lead into the half.

Eastern Randolph broke open the game during the third quarter of play to put some separation between themselves and the Tigers. King knocked down a pair of free throws to start the quarter for the Wildcats and then knocked down a bucket to give them a 23-14 lead. Kaylee Sexton answered with an up and under move to cut the lead to 23-16 for the Tigers. Jordan got going for the Wildcats and knocked down back to back jumpers to give then a double digit lead over the Tigers. Johnson got the shooter’s roll from behind the three point line to pull Randleman back within eight. Beaver scored off a pass from Goins, but Taylor Gantt drained a three for her first points of the night for Randleman. Eastern Randolph responded with a 12-0 run for a 41-22 lead. Randleman closed out the quarter with a 5-0 run. The Wildcats led 41-27 heading into the fourth quarter.

With their post season hopes on the line, the Tigers were not going to back down easily. Marlow went on a personal 6-0 run for the Tigers to start the fourth quarter and cut the lead to eight. Taelyn Johnson went one for two at the free throw line for the Wildcats to extend their lead back to nine. The Tigers pulled within seven on a bucket from Sexton, but a bucket from Hatchett and a free throw from King gave the Wildcats a 45-35 lead. Gantt crashed the offensive board and put the ball back in to cut the lead back to eight with under three minutes left to play. Moments later, Gantt launched and made a transition three to pull Randleman back within five. Randleman tried to come all the way back, but there was just not enough time. Eastern Randolph hung on to win 45-40 over Randleman and advance to the semifinals of the PAC-7 tournament.

Leading the way for the Wildcats were Savannah Beaver and Aniyah King both with 9 points, while Marion Goins and Taylor Hatchett each chipped in 8. For the Tigers it was Taylor Gantt leading the way with 10 points. Emma Marlow finished with 8 points, while Taylor Deaton, Kaylee Sexton, and Alecia Johnson each added 6.

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