Lady Cavs put it together for league play
Southern Lee's girls basketball team came into Tuesday night's Cape Fear Valley Conference opener at Western Harnett as the defending conference champion. The Lady Cavaliers also came into the contest 0-5.
Much of the game was a tough, defensive battle but the Lady Cavs left Western Harnett (0-10, 0-1) starting 1-0 in the CFVC with a 32-26 win.
It was the most experienced Lady Cavalier leading the way as senior guard Brianna Taylor scored 14 points and set the tone defensively in the Lady Cavalier trapping press, especially in the second half.
"This is a big win," said Southern Lee's first-year head coach Nate Woodruff. "We've played a lot of good, 4A schools. It's been really tough competition and it's really helped us grow up as a group."
Southern Lee managed only one bucket in the second quarter but still led 9-8 at halftime.
Western Harnett's Geena Bryant, who scored a team-high eight points, got the first hoop of the second half. Southern Lee's Deshele Sumpter answered with a three-pointer putting the Lady Cavs in front again.
The Lady Eagles edged ahead with two straight buckets, the second by Erin Bryant, for a 16-14 lead. The Lady Cavs scored the last five points of the third period, then Erin Pickens drained a spot-up three from the right wing, making it 22-16 Southern, a major lead in this contest, with 7:20 left in the game.
Southern Lee kept its lead safe from there one defensive stop at a time an one point at a time. Repeatedly drawing fouls, usually after grabbing a steal or a rebound, Taylor went 6-for-13 at the foul line in the fourth quarter.
A hoop in the lane by Loca Matson brought the Lady Eagles within a possession, 26-23, with 1:40 left. Three straight 1-for-2 trips to the line by Taylor were enough for a 29-23 Southern Lee lead with 0:46 left.
"We're still the defending conference champs. We still have that mindset," Woodruff said. "There's that target on our back but we still have the mindset to prove we're still the champs."
Pickens added seven points while Sumpter had five points and Makenzie Cicogna added four.
Western Harnett moves on to another conference game, at Gray's Creek Friday at 6:30 p.m.
The Lady Cavaliers have two in-county contests coming up. Southern Lee plays at Grace Christian Thursday at 6:30 p.m., then at Lee County Saturday at 5 p.m.