Tough win keeps Lady Cavs in conference race
Southern Lee rallied, winning the last seven minutes 12-2, for a 41-37 win at Westover, a key victory in the Cape Fear Valley Conference's girls' basketball race, Friday night.
The Lady Cavaliers (10-9, 7-1) stay within one loss of first-place Overhills, pending how the Lady Jaguars fared against Western Harnett Friday night. Southern Lee has four games left to its regular season, including a rematch at home against the Lady Jaguars on Feb. 12.
For all 32 minutes of the contest at Westover, their was no looking ahead at all for the Lady Cavaliers.
Westover (11-8, 4-4) jumped out to a 9-2 lead through one period. Southern Lee edged in front a few times in the second and third periods but the Lady Wolverines closed the third quarter with a surge and Nekyia Baptiste's three-pointer a few seconds into the fourth quarter gave Westover a 35-29 lead.
"When you come to Westover, you know, every time, it's going to be a tough, physical game. They're a good, strong team and we knew that coming in," said Southern Lee head coach Nate Woodruff.
The Lady Wolverines came into the tilt off a 52-51 loss at Overhills on Wednesday night.
A lot of Lady Cavs came through down the stretch to turn the score around.
"Absolutely, the girls fought to the end," Woodruff said.
"This was a full team win and that's what we've emphasized, what we've said we need to go, all year," he said.
Erin Pickens drained a three-pointer, coming off Brianna Taylor's drive inside and assist, to bring the Lady Cavs within a point, 35-34.
Following a long dry spell for both sides, Taylor got a steal near midcourt starting a break which Rachel Wilson finished with a lay-up for a 37-35 Lady Cavalier lead nearing three minutes remaining.
Going to a four-corner offense, even with the slim lead, the Lady Cavs turned Westover's trap attempts into a bucket inside by Tanora Boykin.
Westover's Kylah Saylon scored, making it 39-37 Lady Cavs with 1:29 left, and a Lady Cavalier turnover, followed on the next Southern Lee possession by a wasted one-and-one chance at the line, gave the home side shots to tie or take lead.
The Lady Cavs kept the lead, with some help as the Lady Wolverines went 0-for-5 at the line in the last two minutes, then broke Westover's trapping again for a huge basket.
Makenzie Cicogna rebounded her own miss and made the second shot. With the clock running under 0:10, two errant Westover shots ended the game.
Taylor led the Lady Cavaliers with 11 points, 10 rebounds, five steals, five assists and the defensive assignment most of the way on Westover's top scorer, guard Airico Williams.
Williams tallied 11 points, 11 rebounds and six steals, although her scoring was seven points below her season average. Center Kylah Saylon led the Lady Wolverines with 12 points to go with seven boards.
"We've had a lot of players step up more and more as the year's gone along," Woodruff said. "Maybe some of it hasn't been expected, but we see it in practice, and when it pays off, when you see players come along as the season goes, it's fun as a coach to see that."
After the slow opening period, Jordanna Kalkhof, Pickens and Wilson made three-pointers to spark a 17-8 second quarter for Southern Lee, giving the Lady Cavs a 19-17 halftime lead.
Pickens finished with eight points, four rebounds and three assists. Off the Lady Cavalier bench, Wilson had five points and Jasmine McIver and Cicogna added four points each.
The Lady Cavaliers still can't look ahead to the second match-up versus Overhills. Next up, Southern Lee will host Union Pines Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m.