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BOILING SPRING LAKES — The West Brunswick High School girls’ basketball team beat South Brunswick 52-45 in a Mideastern Conference game Feb. 6 at South. The victory completed a season sweep of the Cougars.
The Trojans beat Topsail 53-51 Saturday, Feb. 8, at West and that victory clinched the No. 1 from the conference for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Class 3A state playoffs, which begin Feb. 24. West is 3-7 in the conference.
Against the Cougars, West led 21-6 and 36-23 before South rallied and cut the lead to 46-45 with 35.2 seconds left.
The Trojans scored the final six points. Yana Bland was fouled twice and each time sank a free throw, giving West a 48-46 lead.
After South missed a shot, sophomore center Myyah Brown was fouled with 7.9 seconds left. She sank one of two free throws for a 49-46 lead.
South missed another shot. On a fast break, Bland passed the ball to Bre Small, who scored a layup with 2.5 seconds left and clinched the victory.
West freshman McKenzie Benton hit three 3-pointers and scored 16 points.
“McKenzie did a great job tonight,” West coach Mark Jones said.
Junior forward Leilani Emile finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out.
“When she plays aggressive, there aren’t many on the court better than she,” Jones said. “She’s really good.”
Junior guard Bre Small had a career-high 14 points and four assists. She also had five steals.
“Bre, I’m so proud of her,” Jones said.
Junior guard Yana Bland scored four points and had six steals.
“Yana did little things tonight,” Jones said.
“Myyah Brown did a good job rebounding coming off the bench. Hannah Pugh played some tough defense for us coming off the bench.” She finished width two points.
Senior forward Lexus Nixon scored no points but Jones said she was a key contributor to the victory.
“Lexus Nixon played the best game of her career,” Jones said. “I thought she played really good defense when she came in there at the end, when we were in foul trouble. She showed some good senior leadership tonight. I was really proud of her.”
For the Cougars, junior guard Ta’Chondria Bryant scored 16 points and freshman guard Danecia Thomas-Price and junior Corrine Ryan each scored nine points.
West led 21-6 in the first quarter. Benton sank the first two 3-pointers she attempted. In the quarter, Emile score seven points and Small scored six
“I know it’s a big rivalry game and that brings out that best in us,” Jones said.
West led 28-16 at the half. Benton, good-naturedly razzed in the first half by the South student section, in the final seconds of half sank a 3-pointer from the sideline in front of students. She then turned to flash three fingers on each hand as she ran back up court.
“We were fired up for this ballgame, a rivalry game,” Jones said.
The Trojans led 46-39 with 2:30 left in the game when the Cougars rallied, outscoring the Trojans 6-0 and cutting the lead to 46-45. In the run, South hit four of seven free throws and West missed all four of its attempts.
“We showed a lot of maturity doing the things we needed to do to win,” Jones said.
“I’m so proud of the girls tonight. They played together. We had some girls get in foul trouble and we had some girls come off the bench and play a lot more than they usually do.
“I’m just really impressed with the way we kept it together when they got to one point.”
New Hanover 68
West Brunswick 24
New Hanover beat West Brunswick 68-24 in a conference game Friday, Feb. 7, at West.
New Hanover (6-2 in the conference, 11-8 overall) led 10-9 after the first quarter and 28-14 at the half. The lead was 46-16 with 2:18 left in the third quarter and 57-17 with 4:49 left in the final quarter.
West’s top scorers were Emile (13 points) and Pugh (6 points).