Team effort leads Grace over state No. 1
Grace Christian's girls basketball team led throughout the last three quarters to avenge a defeat from earlier this season, and hand Northwood Temple its first Carolina Christian Conference loss, Friday night inside Torgerson Gymnasium.
Senior Anna Murr drained 22 points and senior Karinda Farrant scored 20 points with all sorts of other stats and defensive plays in the 62-53 Lady Crusader victory.
Northwood Temple topped Grace Christian 60-55 in overtime in their first meeting this season, on Dec. 13 in Fayetteville.
Head coach Joel Murr was quick to spread the credit around as Lady Crusader role players did their jobs in fine form in the impressive win over the top-ranked school in the NCISAA 1A state poll.
Forward Madison Bolen and Farrant got the main duty of trying to defend Lady Eagle center Marta Miscenko. Miscenko, a 6-foot-4 center who's committed to play starting next season at University of Texas-El Paso, scored 16 of her 25 points in the fourth quarter. By that time though, Miscenko's buckets were only enough to keep Northwood Temple (16-2, 9-1) within striking distance.
The Lady Crusaders (20-2, 7-1) kept their lead, then pulled away in the last few minutes, with Murr hitting big baskets, along with junior wing Lexi Carver.
As Murr, Farrant and guard Alexis Ross drew the Lady Eagle trapping efforts, Carver made a 16-foot baseline jumper taking the Lady Crusader lead to 53-43 as the clock ticked under four minutes left. Carver finished a lay-in from the baseline a couple of possessions later, making it 55-43. Carver scored six of her eight points in the fourth quarter.
"The X factor was Madison," coach Murr said. "She does all the little things, rebounding, and boxing out...she helps us in a lot of ways like that."
Northwood Temple took the lead in the opening minutes. A steal and coast-to-coast drive for a hoop by Farrant made it 10-10 late in the first period, then a Murr three-pointer from well beyond the arc on the right wing made it 13-12 Grace.
Counting Murr's three, then the first 2:18 of the second quarter, the Lady Crusaders took the lead for good with a 13-2 run. Farrant scored three straight baskets on physical drives down the paint, the third being for a three-point play and a 23-14 lead.
The Lady Crusaders were helped out by Miscenko finding some foul trouble, and having to go to the bench for stretches of the second and third quarters.
Three-pointers by Ross and Farrant helped take the Lady Crusader margin to 38-29 shortly into the third period. A jumper by Carver followed by Murr making a lay-up off an inbounds play made it 44-31 Lady Crusaders. Grace Christian led 44-35 going to the fourth quarter.
Six straight points by Miscenko, all in the low post, cut Grace Christian's lead to 47-43 with less than five minutes left. The Lady Crusaders broke the ensuing full-court pressing in a hurry with Ross scoring a three-point play and Grace Christian kept going on an 8-0 run.
Ross added 10 points and seven rebounds. Bolen had seven boards as well. Farrant had eight rebounds, six assists, five blocks and four steals. Ross, Carver and Bolen had two assists each.
Besides Miscenko's 25 points, Valerija Pokrovskaja added eight points for the Lady Eagles.
"Our girls were looking forward to playing them tonight, really ever since we lost in overtime at their place. They just felt we could win this," said Joel Murr.
The Lady Crusaders, ranked fourth in NCISAA 1A this week, were slated to play three games this week but winter weather changed it to just Friday night's game. The Lady Crusaders will conclude their regular season next week with home games versus Lee Christian, on Thursday, and Cape Fear Christian, on Friday.