Dec 28, 2012
The Holly Springs Lady Hawks used superior defense for the second day in a row Friday to down the Rocky Mount Gryphons in the 5th place game of the Mix 101.5 Girls Bracket at the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational.
A day after jumping out to a big lead against Cary Academy, the Hawks used a similar formula in the 5th place game against Rocky Mount. Holly Springs led 10-0 midway through the first quarter 18-2 after 8 minutes, building a cushion it would need in the second half.
Forward Madison Perry scored 10 points in the opening quarter and 14 for the game, taking advantage of Rocky Mount's press early to score four layups in the first 5 minutes.
"We wanted another quick start, that was the message this morning," Holly Springs head coach Richard Young said. "That first quarter was what we wanted to have for four quarters. Moving forward, the goal is to replicate today's first quarter."
Rocky Mount clawed back a bit in the second quarter, pulling to within 8 points midway through, but Holly Springs went on a 7-2 run to close the half with a 29-16 advantage.
In the third quarter, however, it was all Gryphons. With Holly Springs' leading scorer Kiara Leslie on the bench in foul trouble, Rocky Mount used a half court trap to force numerous turnovers and hold the Hawks to just 4 points in the frame. Meanwhile, the Rocky Mount offense finally came to life.
Behind center Kelsey Daniels, who finished with 18 points and 5 rebounds, the Gryphons closed the game and trailed 33-27 after three quarters.
With Leslie back in the lineup in the final frame, Holly Springs reasserted itself offensively and closed the deal, ripping off a 10-4 run to close the game and secure the seven-point win and 5th place in the competitive bracket.
Leslie, the sister of N.C. State forward C.J. Leslie, finished with a team-high 20 points and 7 rebounds.
Young said his team's overall defense throughout the game allowed it to survive the disappointing third quarter.
"I'm blessed with the talent we have," he said. "We got some people in foul trouble so I had to sub them out and some of our best ball handlers were out of the game. We kind of threw the ball away for a few possessions and they got back in the game."
Leslie, who has received offers from half a dozen ACC programs, said Friday's game – and the tournament as a whole – is a prime example of the consistency Holly Springs needs to play with in order to accomplish its goal of winning the Tri-Nine Conference.
"The goal is to finish No. 1 in the conference," she said. "I think we have a good understanding of how we need to come and play hard and be consistent from the start."
This story is closed for comments.