Dec 26, 2013
Despite a sluggish start and the difficult task of defending a 6-foot-5 Duke signee, West Craven survived on Thursday to earn a 55-49 win over Cary in the third game of the Mix 101.5 Girls Bracket in the 2013 HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational.
Jamie Cherry, a 5-foot-6 guard who will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall, filled up the stat sheet for the Eagles, finishing with 27 points, 6 steals, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. West Craven will play Chapel Hill at 2:30 p.m. Friday in the Mix 101.5 Girls Bracket semifinal.
Early on, Cherry was tasked with trying to defend Cary center Azura Stevens, the Duke signee who had 11 inches on her. It didn't work.
The Eagles spotted the Lady Imps an eight-point lead in the first five minutes of the game, and Stevens had 6 points and 10 rebounds in the first eight minutes.
In the second quarter, however, Cherry and Co. took control of the momentum. The senior scored 14 points in the frame.
West Craven head coach Dave Fernandez said he knew his team would be in for a tough game.
"We got off to a slow start, spotted them a lead, and then we kind of grinded it out," he said. "We put Jamie on Stevens early on, but it's not what we do all the time. We went back to what we do, we went back to playing West Craven basketball."
Cherry's three-pointer with 1.2 seconds left in the frame put West Craven ahead for the first time in the game, and it would be a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Cary tied the game at 32 early in the third quarter, but West Craven finished the frame on a 12-4 run to go up by eight headed into the fourth. Cary once again closed the gap, pulling to within two in the final four minutes.
Cherry put the game away at the line, hitting five free throws in the final 90 seconds to secure the win.
"We grinded it out and made shots when we needed to," Cherry said. "I had to play hard defensively, and the offense came. We kind of figured that we could get easy baskets on the fast break."
Stevens, who dominated the glass throughout, finished with 22 points and 24 rebounds, one shy of the record for girls games in the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational.
Cary head coach Patrick Daly said the tournament will serve as a measuring stick for his team heading into conference play. Cary will play Hillside Friday at 10 a.m.
"We played a really good team today," Daly said.
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