Bennett paces Lady Jacket surge
Sophomore guard Shantel Bennett scored 12 of her 23 points in the second quarter leading Lee County to pull away from and go on to beat visiting rival Western Harnett 53-40 Thursday night.
Lee County (2-3) needed a last-second basket in regulation, then overtime, to win at Western Harnett in both squads' season-opener three weeks ago.
At Lee County, the Lady Eagles (0-6) led in the early minutes and it was still close until Bennett scored eight points of a 10-0 Lady Yellow Jacket run to suddenly open up a 25-11 lead in the second quarter.
Bennett, the Jacket point guard, drove in from the left wing, into traffic in the paint, and flipped a no-look shot over her head and a couple defenders for a bucket. Two Lady Eagle turnovers led to Jacket breaks and Bennett finishing both with lay-ups making it 21-11. She made two at the foul line for a 25-11 Lee County lead.
Bennett scored 17 points in the opening half and Lee County led 32-15 after what was a slow start.
Guard Jonacia Harper scored the first six Lady Eagle points, with two hoops on steals and fast breaks, and Western Harnett led 6-2.
In the last 0:34 of the first quarter, Quitta Wilson hit a three for the Lady Jackets, answered by Meredith Randolph driving to the basket for a three-point play, then Bennett hit a trey giving Lee County a 12-9 lead.
Using her quickness, as well as making jumpers, Bennett scored the first three Jacket baskets of the second half.
Lee County led by as much as 21 in the second half. The Lady Eagles chipped the lead down to 12 on a couple occassions in the fourth quarter.
Marissa Perez's jumper cut the Jacket lead to 45-33 with about six minutes to play. Randolph, who led the Eagles with 16 points, made another drive inside for a three-point play bringing Western Harnett within 50-38 with less than three minutes left. Western Harnett had a couple of possessions looking to cut the lead to nine or 10 but Lee County kept the Lady Eagles at bay.
Jasmine Person had eight points, six rebounds and four assists for the Lady Jackets. Wilson had eight points and six boards. Noelle Beattie had four points, on two hoops in the fourth quarter, and a team-high eight rebounds.
Harper finished with 11 points for the Lady Eagles. Geena Bryant got 13 rebounds. Lee County forced 30 Lady Eagle turnovers.
The Lady Jackets will take the win into the start of their Cape Fear Valley Conference slate next week. Lee County will host its first-ever CFVC game versus Gray's Creek at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Western Harnett is in its first basketball season in the Two Rivers Conference and the Lady Eagles will begin their league play at Corinth Holders on Dec. 13.