Dec 26, 2012
The Hillside Hornets used pressure defense and clutch free throw shooting Wednesday afternoon to down Cary Academy 81-71 in the opening game of the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational Mix 101.5 Girls Bracket.
Justine Lyons led the Hornets with 23 points, including 12 in the final quarter, and Mya Webb came off the bench to tally 18.
Due to foul trouble in a stop-and-start first half, Hillside (3-1) struggled to find its offensive rhythm early on. That rhythm appeared in the third and fourth quarter thanks to full court defense, and numerous layups helped the Hornets build a two-possession cushion over the Chargers (2-1) for much of the final 10 minutes.
Cary Academy's Mickayla Sanders led all scorers with 39 points, and Rebekah Banks added 14.
Hillside head coach Ovester Grays said several of his players were battling with flu-like symptoms before Wednesday's tournament opener.
"I knew we were going to have a rough game with some girls being sick and the holidays," he said. "I told the girls after the game that we'll take the win even though we didn't play well."
When the Hornets did play well, it was because of pressure defense that wore down a Cary Academy roster that included just eight players. Hillside 32 points in the final quarter, many of which came in transition against a Cary Academy defense struggling to get back.
"We were really tired, and the turnovers made a huge difference in the second half," Cary Academy coach Mike Zeilman said. "We have a very small margin for error because we have so few girls."
Lyons said the Hornets knew their defensive pressure could help them win a game that up for grabs at halftime.
"It definitely gets the adrenaline going," she said of playing defense 90 feet from the basket. "It makes everyone want to play harder. We had to pull ourselves together and get the win.
With the win, Hillside moves on in the Mix 101.5 Girls Bracket to face the winner of Broughton-Holly Springs Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at Cary Academy.
The Chargers will face the Broughton-Holly Springs loser at Cary Academy at 10:30 a.m.
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