FAYETTEVILLE — Like East Bladen has done to many of its opponents this season, the Lady Rams of Reidsville turned the tables on the Lady Eagles, holding them to just 13 points in the second half, to win Wednesday’s East region semifinal at the Crown Arena, 41-37.
The loss brings an end to East Bladen’s season at 28-2.
“Their length caught up with us in the second half,” said East Bladen coach patty Evers. “And we just didn’t execute in the second half like we have all season.”
Reidsville, now 25-0, moves on to the East Region finals Saturday.
Neither team could crack the scorebook for nearly 3 minutes of the first quarter, but the Lady Rams managed to put the game’s first three points on the board before East Bladen got its first basket at the 4:40 mark from Lacey Suggs and used it to start a 9-0 spurt highlighted by a three-pointer by Asha Graham.
After Reidsville stopped the run with a free throw, Imani Turner-Dobson sank a bucket for the Lady Eagles and, just before the quarter ended, Reidsville canned a shot to keep the deficit at 11-6.
In the second quarter, the Lady Rams pressure defense began to bother East Bladen and forced six turnovers along the way. But after Reidsville opened the quarter with a basket, the lady Eagles went on a 7-0 run on a pair of baskets by Suggs — one of which resulted in a free throw after the basket — and one by Abbey Norris to open an 18-8 lead.
Two free throws by Reidsville were matched by a driving basket by Suggs and, after a bucket by the Lady Rams, Suggs canned another driving basket before Reidsville went on a 5-0 spurt to cut the margin to 22-17. Suggs stopped the bleeding with another basket — her 10th point of the quarter — before the lady rams hit a shot at the end of the half to pull within 24-19.
East Bladen opened the second half with a 3-0 spurt that opened a 27-19 edge behind an old-fashioned three-point play by Suggs, but Reidsville all but took over from there.
After a Lady Rams basket was matched by a pair of free throws from Norris, Reidsville began forcing turnovers and went on a 7-0 run. Norris ended that run with a basket, but the Lady Rams ended the third quarter with a trio of free throws — the last one which knotted the game at 31-31.
One minute into the fourth frame, Reidsville canned a basket that gave the Lady Rams their first lead in the game since the 4:20 mark of the first quarter. They added another basket for a 35-31 edge before Suggs sank a basket for East Bladen.
A pair of 3-0 spurts by Reidsville were sandwiched around a bucket by Graham, and Suggs finished the scoring with a gimmie layup as time expired.
“I was really proud of the girls for not losing their composure after being down after the first quarter and at halftime,” said Reidsville coach Casey Elrod. “(Lacey) Suggs really caused us trouble in the first half, being a left-hander, and we had to make adjustments to it.”
Evers said Reidsville was known to be tough at rebounding and free throws, which was evident in the second half.
“I thought we played a really good first half,” she said. “(But) their strengths showed in the second half.
“I’m real proud of what these girls did this year. We thought it would be next season before we’d reach the regionals, but here they are,” she added. “And they will be back.”
Suggs led all scorers with 22 points — 15 in the first half.
“They figured out what I could do and cut the lane off (in the second half),” Suggs said.
Norris missed a double-double by two points after grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds and scoring eight points. Graham hit the game’s lone three-pointer and finished with five points.
Turner-Dobson had five rebounds and four blocks for East Bladen.
“One last thing … I want to say this was probably the biggest crowd from Bladen County for any regional we’ve played in,” Evers said. “The support from Bladen County tonight — from one end to the other — was rally something to see, and I know the girls really appreciated it.”
East Bladen 37
East Bladen 13-11-7-6 — 37
Reidsville8-11-12-10 — 41
Highlights: For East Bladen, Lacey Suggs scored 22 points; Abbey Norris pulled down 12 rebounds and scored eight points; Imani Turner-Dobson had five rebounds and four blocks; Asha Graham scored five points with a three-pointer.
Records: East Bladen 28-2; Reidsville 25-0.