WENDELL — A fourth quarter surge gave the East Wake girls just enough cushion to hang on for a 48-42 victory over Clayton on Tuesday.
The Comets (8-3, 1-3 Greater Neuse River 4A) trailed the Warriors by two points at the end of each of the first three quarters before taking their first lead of the game at the start of the fourth.
But momentum shifted shortly after as the Warriors pressured the Comets into forced shots, several of which missed their mark, and Clayton gave up a strand of turnovers.
“We wanted to win possessions and what we didn’t want to happen was turnovers,” Clayton coach Marlon Lee said. “Turnovers led to some of their points and they kind of took us away from our game plan.”
In the midst of the surge, East Wake (8-5, 4-1) reinstated Shayla Tanner, who had previously been benched due to foul trouble. Tanner scored just four of her team-high 14 points in the final frame, but they came when the Warriors needed them the most – near the two-minute mark, setting her team up by seven.
Warrior point guard Daisha Thorpe kept the Comets at bay in the final minute, going 6-for-6 from the charity line.
East Wake coach Toni Vick said her team responded well in an adverse situation, and said the Warriors’ 5-point loss to Southeast the Friday before was likely the reason.
“They just didn’t want to be defeated,” she said. “The intensity came and it showed that they wanted it. They stepped it up, and I liked our effort tonight.”
The Warriors opened the game with a 6-0 run, but Clayton’s Taisha Murphy drained a pair of 3-pointers to help revive her team by the end of the first period. Murphy led the Comets with 17 points.
The teams traded blow for blow over the next 18 minutes before East Wake inched ahead.
Lee was positive about his team’s showing, despite the loss.
“East Wake’s a great team,” he said. “A possession or two here and there dictated the outcome of this game.”
Jenna Harris added 10 points for the Comets, while Thorpe pitched in 13 for the Warriors.