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A staunch defensive effort in the third quarter helped the Fike High varsity girls basketball team to a 57-47 victory over visiting Southern Nash High in the 3-A Big East Conference opener for both teams Jan. 8.
The Ladybirds, who dropped to 4-8 overall, took a 17-9 lead after one quarter. But the Lady Demons (8-5) responded on the defensive end by holding Southern Nash to seven points in the second quarter and just four in the third.
“I told them that we needed to pressure them more,” Fike head coach Jeff Nelson said. “We can’t sit back and let them control the offense. We want to force them to do stuff and they did that.”
Fike grabbed the lead when junior guard Brikayla Whitaker stripped the ball from Ladybirds point guard Shontell Nicholson and scored for a 25-24 lead with seven minutes left in the third. Whitaker finished with 10 points, five assists, a steal and a block.
“I don’t know if our girls were just happy with having a little lead, and I just think they were afraid to make mistakes,” Ladybirds head coach Jordan Bass said. “They just weren’t being aggressive on offense. Got a little stagnant, weren’t moving like we should and weren’t attacking the basket like we should. It looked like they were waiting for somebody else to make the play instead of making the play themselves.”
Fike took advantage and went on a 20-4 run spanning the first 10 minutes of the second half. But down 13 early in the fourth, Southern Nash made a 13-3 run to pull within three at 44-41.
“Defensively, we turned it up a little bit,” Bass said. “But I believe the girls, they just turned up the energy a little bit, and being able to make shots always helps.”
But before the Ladybirds could get any closer, Lady Demons senior forward Ashleigh Sage took advantage of the full-court trap defense as she finished a couple of layups and got fouled. Sage had seven of her 12 points in the fourth quarter. She pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked five shots for the game.
“Ashleigh missed some around the basket, but she finished down the stretch and she was making her free throws tonight,” Nelson said.
Fike’s Jah’Asia Pernell provided a team-high 13 points, six rebounds and a steal. Faith Lucas put in nine points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Rayna Bailey provided the bulk of the scoring for the Ladybirds with 18 points. Stacie Winner hit a few big shots in the first and fourth quarters and finished with 11 points.