Wade Hampton and Northwestern’s girls couldn’t have played a more different first and last 10 minutes of their 4A state playoffs first round game Thursday night.
No. 1 seed Northwestern (12-12) held the visiting Generals (16-9) to one point in the first quarter, and without a field goal until two minutes into the second quarter. But when Alexis Loney’s free throw pushed the Trojans’ lead to 24-18 with two and a half minutes left in the third quarter, it sparked something in the visitors. Eric Burrows’ No. 4-seeded team out-scored Northwestern 29-8 in the final 10 minutes to advance to the second round and a Friday matchup against Spring Valley.
“We started picking up the pressure a little bit and we realized they couldn’t handle so we just kept applying it,” said Burrows afterward. “It’s something we didn’t do for probably two and a half quarters. They were the aggressor and we were just sitting back and taking it. Then we flipped the switch. I’m not sure what happened.”
It wasn’t the season-ending loss that Northwestern coach John Bramlett expected. All season his team has struggled offensively – the Trojans were shooting about 28 percent from the floor as a team – but they have defended well and taken advantage of teams that tried to press them. That didn’t happen in the third and fourth quarters when the hosts were snowed under by a deluge of turnovers forced by a sticky Wade Hampton three-quarters-court pressure.
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“Pressure really hasn’t been a bother all year, and I don’t know why it was tonight,” said Bramlett, a pile of turned-in uniforms laying at his feet. “We did not move the ball from side to side for whatever reason. You’ve got to attack pressure teams and we didn’t.”
Burrow said it felt like his team was down 20 points in the first half, when in reality they were only trailing by five or six. The Generals finally took their first lead of the game with 55 seconds left in the third quarter when Bre Watts, who led all scorers with 16, scored to make it 26-24. Wade Hampton poured on the press and it melted the Trojan ball-handlers. Turnover after turnover led to free throws or layups as Northwestern’s season came to an end.
“It wasn’t anything me, it was all them,” said Burrows. “We’ve got 12 great girls that work hard and play hard and they’re a great bunch of kids.”
Wade Hampton 47, Northwestern 32
Wade Hampton: Sierra Foster 10, Jada Kinlaw 1, Bre Watts 16, Erin Dillard 4, Alexis Burnside 3, Sarah Beth Epting 2, Savannah Vernon 11. Northwestern: NaNa Jones 7, Destyne Garmon 5, McKenna Thompson 6, Tiana Lewter 6, Kira Douglas 3, Lauren Reese 2, Alexis Loney 3.
Team fouls: Wade Hampton 21; Northwestern 20. Foul-shooting: Wade Hampton 17-25; Northwestern 14-27. Fouled out: Loney, Northwestern. 3-point shooting: Wade Hampton 2 (Dillard 1, Vernon 1); Northwestern 0.
Records: Wade Hampton 16-9; Northwestern 12-12.