Lady Bears fend off furious Cavaliers rally

Posted 2/14/20

BEAR CREEK — Chatham Central surged to a 12-2 advantage midway through the first period on its way to fashioning a 14-point lead at intermission, then withstood a determined second-half rally by …

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Lady Bears fend off furious Cavaliers rally

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BEAR CREEK — Chatham Central surged to a 12-2 advantage midway through the first period on its way to fashioning a 14-point lead at intermission, then withstood a determined second-half rally by North Rowan that cut the margin to two in the closing minutes before holding off the Lady Cavaliers 52-47 in Yadkin Valley 1A Conference action Tuesday night in Gerald L. Binkley Gymnasium.

Winning their third straight outing while gaining a measure of revenge for a 59-38 loss on the road to North Rowan eight days earlier, the Lady Bears climbed to 8-5 in the league standings and evened their overall record at 10-10, whereas the Lady Cavaliers fell to 10-3 in the conference and 14-7 for the year.

Mary Grace Murchison led the winners with 12 points, while Danielle Vaughn and Grace Jones chipped in eight apiece. Chatham Central connected on 20-of-49 (41 percent) of its attempts from the floor while committing 20 turnovers.

Natavia Taborn topped North Rowan with 17 points and Hannah Wilkerson added nine as the visitors from Spencer shot 17-of-58 (29 percent) from the field and held a 33-32 edge on the boards while turning the ball over 18 times.

“We came out and stopped North Rowan’s fast break attack early while moving the ball really well on offense and working to get good looks at the basket,” said Lady Bears’ coach Lynda Burke. “Defensively we changed from a 3-2 zone to a 2-1-2 in the second quarter which kept them off-balance while helping us build on our lead.

“But they made adjustments at halftime and out-hustled us the second half, while their press began to force turnovers that allowed them to make a run at us down the stretch before we buckled down and decided we were not going to let this win slip away.”

Lady Cavaliers’ coach Ronald Wilkerson said that after his team played one of its worst halves of the season in the opening 16 minutes, they managed to regroup and bring their style of play to the court over the last two quarters. But the deficit they faced was too much to overcome.

“We came out flat tonight while Chatham Central came out aggressive and took it to us early before we became more the aggressor in the second half,” said Wilkerson. “We don’t normally give up a lot of transition points, but they got a lot of easy baskets in the first half off their rebounding as we didn’t do a good job boxing out. Even so, we battled back and had an opportunity to pull out a victory at the end but couldn’t put a couple of point-blank layups in the hole when it was still a one-possession game.”

Back-to-back treys by Murchison and Vaughn capped off the Lady Bears’ opening burst with 4:18 to go in the initial period prior to North Rowan trimming the gap to 14-8 on McKiya McDaniel’s jumper in the lane with 42 seconds left in the first quarter. But with Jones and Lindsey Johnson combining for 10 points in the second stanza Chatham Central gradually extended its advantage to 29-15 at the break.

Following a jumper from the right wing by Eliana Phillips with 6:04 remaining in the third period that gave the Lady Bears their biggest lead of the evening at 31-16, the Lady Cavaliers outscored their host 12-2 over the next three-and-a-half minutes to pull within 33-28 on a Wilkerson free throw before Johnson’s three-pointer from the right side sparked an 8-4 quarter-ending run, climaxed by Murchison’s trey from the right wing at the buzzer, that put Chatham Central up by nine entering the final frame.

After Phillips’ conventional three-point play with 6:50 to go increased the Lady Bears’ advantage to 46-33, North Rowan mounted one last comeback attempt that eventually narrowed the difference to 49-47 on a pair of Taborn foul shots with 2:16 left to play.

But while the Lady Cavaliers failed to convert a pair of shots under the basket as the clock was winding down, Chatham Central proceeded to put the contest away on a Murchison charity toss followed by her backcourt steal and subsequent layup as time expired.


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