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North girls give Croatan a scare

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Nobody gave North Brunswick much of a chance against Croatan in the second round of the Class 2A high school girls’ basketball playoffs.

Croatan entered last week’s game with a 25-1 record and ranked 10th in the state. The East Central Conference champions also had a significant size advantage over the Lady Scorpions.

But North Brunswick gave the Lady Cougars all they could handle in Wednesday’s contest at Broad Creek.

The Lady Scorpions led by three points midway through the fourth quarter before Croatan made a late run and held on for a 58-53 win.

“It was so heart-wrenching to me and the girls because nobody gave us a chance,” said North Brunswick coach Travis Fortune.

“After getting the scouting report from West Carteret and hearing about their size, I didn’t know either. They had a lot more size but we were quicker. I felt like we were the better team and it hurt to lose it.”

The Lady Scorpions were up 14-10 at the end of the first quarter. Croatan racked up 19 points in the second period and led 29-22 at halftime.

North Brunswick cut the deficit to 42-39 at the end of the third quarter and went up by three points before Croatan capitalized on a couple turnovers and took the lead for good with about three minutes remaining.

“We were up three with four minutes left and had back-to-back turnovers,” Fortune said.

“Once we got down by one we got in a panic mode and that comes from experience. I think the experience took over at the end of the game. They had it and we didn’t.”

Fortune said North Brunswick did an outstanding job handling Croatan’s size. The Lady Cougars had two 6-footers inside and a couple of 5-foot-9 guards.

“They were bigger than us but we stuck with them. We played them tough,” he said. “Lynse McNeil and Latesha Harrison played well against their post players. We handled them on the boards, just did a great job boxing out.”

Ar’neka Montford scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Chelsea McGowan had 11 points and 11 boards to lead Croatan. The Lady Cougars advanced to the sectional championship game against First Flight.

Freshman guard Tyera Fisher scored 22 points and McNeil added 11 for North Brunswick, the second seed from the Waccamaw 1A/2A Conference.

“I’m so proud of my girls,” Fortune said. “That’s probably one of the best games we’ve played.”

After finishing 6-16 last season, North Brunswick went 16-10 this year. The Lady Scorpions tied for third place in their conference and earned a share of the county championship.

Fortune pointed out that four of North Brunswick’s losses this season came against Pender, which is one of the best 1A teams in the state.

“The difference between last year and this year is the girls believed in themselves and put in the effort and never quit. They kept fighting all year.”

Game Summary

N. Brun. 14 8 17 14—53

Croatan 10 19 13 16—58

North Brunswick scoring: Fisher 22, McNeil 11, Robbins 7, Harrison 7, Williams 3, Graham 2, White 1.

Croatan scoring: Montford 22, McGowan 11, Lewis 8, Montford-Frost 7, Gould 6, Bridges 4.

Doug Rutter is the sports editor at the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or at drutter@brunswickbeacon.com