Dec 26, 2012
Broughton guard Justice Byrd was sitting in the timeout huddle, head hung, though 35 seconds still sat on the clock.
Her team had just allowed Holly Springs to erase a 15-point third-quarter deficit when the Hawks' Linnea Hoops drained a 3-pointer to knot the game at 60. Holly Springs had all the momentum, and overtime likely would have meant that the Hawks would continue the 18-5 run they were on.
Broughton coach Brad McCorkle calmed his troops in the huddle and drew up a play -- a spread to create some space for his point guard -- for the Caps to run as the clock neared zero.
His play never materialized. Instead, Broughton put up a contested shot after finding it difficult to break into the Hawks' defense. That's when Byrd, the senior, swooped in and grabbed an offensive rebound that she immediately put back up. The ball fell through the hoop as the clock crossed the two-second mark, and the Caps staved off the Hawks' furious comeback to escape with a 62-60 win the first round of the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational Mix 101.5 Girls Bracket.
"(McCorkle) called a tiemout, and I went into it a little upset. And then once we got out of the timeout, I had some motivaton that we could score because we had the ball last," Byrd said. "I got the rebound and put it back up, and it was just like, 'ahh!' It's a big relief. Huge relief."
Byrd's game-winning moment was nearly derailed by Holly Springs forward Kiara Leslie. Leslie, the sister of N.C. State's C.J., took control of the game in the fourth quarter and finished with a 29-point, 10-rebound double-double. Broughton couldn't find an answer for her all game, but when she got into foul trouble, the Caps attacked.
Leslie picked up her third foul late in the second quarter, and Broughton went on a 10-4 run just before halftime to grab a nine-point lead. When the Hawks got within striking distance in the closing minutes of the game, Leslie picked up two charging fouls in three possessions, forcing her to watch the final 1:15 from the bench.
"It was really frustrating because I couldn't help my team out," Leslie said of facing foul trouble throughout the game. "I thought I was doing pretty good until that last foul."
Broughton successfully used a halfcourt trap to force several Holly Springs turnovers throughout the first three quarters. The Caps converted those errors into fast-break points on the other end, which, combined with 19 points from guard Nadine Ealey, allowed them to keep Holly Springs at a safe distance for the majority of the game.
Broughton extended its lead to 15 points in the third quarter and 13 points near the beginning of the fourth quarter. Once the Caps tried to slow the game down, Leslie and Holly Springs came roaring back.
"I felt like at that point, there was a moment where that team was going to lay down, or they were going to come back," McCorkle said. "To their credit, they didn't give up. I felt like we learned something today -- that you've really got to play hard at that moment when you have a chance to put the game away."
Although Holly Springs' relentless comeback was ultimately denied, coach Richard Young said he was proud of the fight his team displayed. He added, though, that the Hawks can't continue to dig themselves into holes with lazy passes on offense.
Leslie's 29 points led all scorers, and she was aided with 11 points by Ka'la Jordan. Byrd's game-winning bucket brought her total to 14 for the day, and Ealey's sister, Kaila, chipped in 11 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Broughton moves on to face Hillside in the semifinal at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. Holly Springs will try to bounce back against Cary Academy at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday.
This story is closed for comments.