WENDELL -- Tuesday night’s Northern Carolina 2A Conference game with visiting Louisburg wasn’t quite a tale of two halves, but it came perilously close to being one for Corinth Holders girls basketball team.
After using a plethora of back door looks to build an 11-point third quarter lead, the Pirates’ ship almost sank. But thanks to a follow shot from Morgan Hester with 54 seconds to play and a converted free throw by Cyarra Pierson, Corinth Holders survived a second half rally by the Warriors with a 33-31 triumph.
Hester’s basket, the Pirates’ first in almost 11 minutes, erased a 31-30 lead by Louisburg, which had taken its only lead of the night with two minutes to play.
Pierson followed that effort with five seconds to play, connecting on the second of two foul shots to push the margin to 33-31 and forced the Warriors to turn the ball over without getting a final shot off.
Those heroics enabled the Pirates to avoid an embarrassing loss, after controlling play throughout most of the first three quarters. That control was based on the ability to use back door cuts against the Warrior two-three zone defense and then its man-to-man with resounding success in rolling to a 29-18 lead with 3:49 left in the third quarter. "It seemed like they had some gaps open, especially on the sidelines,” said Pirates coach Brandy Smith. “Whether it was in our full court or half court offense, we had the opportunity to throw the ball over their screens to the right places and find the open person.”
Maddy Gladwell tortured the Warriors with a majority of those passes, finding Pierson and Kris Neal time and again for Pirates buckets. Pierson, when not the recipient of those passes, whistled a few by the Warriors defenders herself for assists. The trio, along with Morgan Hester, made life miserable for the Warriors through for 20 minutes in building the 29-18 advantage. That’s when everything began to come apart on the Pirates’ ship, as they began forcing shots and turning the ball over, enabling the Warriors to get back into the game.
“We started playing like we were the team that was down instead of the one leading," Smith said. “Our shot selection became bad, and we started throwing up bad shots when we were not in a position to rebound and they were. It led to a lot of transition baskets, and let them (Warriors) get back into the game.”
Louisburg took advantage of the focal lapse by the Pirates, running off 12 unanswered points.
Hester led Corinth Holders with 10 points. Neal and Pierson dropped in nine points each for the Pirates.