BEAR CREEK — Mary Grace Murchison and Maddy Elkins combined for 47 points as Chatham Central seized the early lead before pulling away in the third quarter en route to thrashing Vance Charter …
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BEAR CREEK — Mary Grace Murchison and Maddy Elkins combined for 47 points as Chatham Central seized the early lead before pulling away in the third quarter en route to thrashing Vance Charter School 64-38 in quarterfinal action of the NCHSAA 2019 Women’s 1A East basketball state playoffs Saturday night in Gerald L. Binkley Gymnasium.
Romping to their 12th consecutive victory, the fourth-seed Lady Bears improved to 22-3 for the season and advanced to next Tuesday’s East Regional semifinals when they travel to Bayboro to face top-seed Pamlico County (26-2), while the fifth-seed Lady Knights had their 17-game win streak come to a crashing halt as they ended the year 26-3.
Murchison poured in a game-high 27 points while Elkins recorded a double-double with 20 points and 11 boards as Chatham Central connected on 29-of-68 (43 percent) of its field goal attempts, including 43 percent accuracy (three-of-seven) from behind the bonus arc.
Nadia Simmons topped Vance Charter with 17 points as the Lady Knights made just 15-of-58 (26 percent) of their shots from the floor, including only 16 percent (four-of-25) from three-point range.
“Defense and rebounding were huge for us tonight,” said Lady Bears’ coach Lynda Burke.
“I thought our press gave Vance Charter fits and led to numerous transition buckets,” Burke said, “while we boxed out well around the basket at both ends of the court.”
“Mary Grace and Maddy stepped up as leaders on the floor for us this evening and hit some big shots,” said Burke. “Our team is a determined group of girls who came out and executed their game in the second half to force a number of turnovers that led to easy points and they never looked back.”
Lady Knights’ coach Eladio Espinosa noted his squad couldn’t match Chatham Central’s depth and aggressiveness on defense.
“They are a disciplined team that presses extremely well and forces you into making mistakes, and we couldn’t overcome 25 turnovers,” explained Espinosa. “Not only our shooting was off tonight but we didn’t take care of rebounding, which had been a strength for us all year.”
Following Alicia Pulley’s jumper in the lane and a Simmons trey from the right wing that gave Vance Charter a 5-0 advantage at the outset, Murchison’s three-pointer from the right side with 6:06 remaining in the first stanza put the Lady Bears ahead to stay at 7-5 and was part of a 12-0 run that launched the rout.
After two Margaret Bobbitt free throws drew the Lady Knights within 13-12 with 1:20 left in the opening frame, Murchison canned a layup and foul shot before the period was over to give Chatham Central a four-point lead.
Murchison’s trey from the right wing plus a layup, sandwiched around Elkins’ jumper off the right baseline, resulted in a 7-0 Lady Bears’ run at the start of the second quarter that increased their advantage to 23-12 before Vance Charter rallied behind eight points from Simmons to trim the gap to 32-24 at halftime.
But behind a collective 14 points from Elkins and Murchison, along with four points each from Cami Hughes and Lauren Oldham, the third stanza belonged to Chatham Central, which outscored the Lady Knights 22-4 in the frame to stretch its lead to 54-28.
Vance Charter was never able to reduce its deficit to less than 24 throughout the remainder of the contest, while the Bears forged their biggest advantage of the evening at 64-33 following an Abby Elkins layup with 1:52 left on the clock.