Second place performance
Published 4:09 pm Thursday, January 4, 2024
AHOSKIE – Gates County High School’s varsity girls team finished in second place at last week’s 32nd annual News-Herald Holiday Classic held at the Hertford County gym.
In the opening round on Dec. 26, the Lady Barons outscored Edenton-Holmes 35-5 in the second half to post a 53-18 victory. London Barber and Kyndall Banks led the way with 14 points each.
That win advanced GCHS to the semifinals on Thursday against host Hertford County. There, Semiyh Saunders scored 12 of her game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter, rallying the Lady Barons to a 48-38 victory.
Leading 32-30 at the end of the third quarter, Hertford County seemed poised to advance to the finals when Brooklyn White and Jaliyah Mitchell opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back baskets that staked the Lady Bears to a 36-30 lead.
The Lady Barons trimmed that deficit to 36-34 thanks to a hoop from Zebriya Woodley plus a pair of free throws by Saunders.
On Gates County’s next possession, Saunders tracked down a long rebound, turned and fired in a three-pointer that gave her team their first lead (37-36) since the second quarter. Saunders followed that by making one of two free throws on her team’s next possession. However, Hertford County’s Sophia Howard sank a basket to tie the game at 38-38 with 2:18 remaining.
That’s where Saunders took complete control of the contest. She connected on two baskets, sandwiched around a free throw from Banks, and then scored again from the field, staking the Lady Barons to a 45-38 lead with 23 seconds left in the contest.
Despite sloppy play by both teams in the first quarter (a combined 28 turnovers), Hertford County managed to build a 7-1 lead punctuated by Adarielle Townsell’s steal and lay-up at the midway mark of the period.
Gates County answered with a 6-0 run sparked by three free throws from Woodley, a basket by Barber, and a charity toss from Camiya Riddick that tied the game at 7-7.
Townsell accounted for the final points of the period, sinking one of two free throws and then adding a steal and lay-up with 11 seconds left that gave the Lady Bears a 10-7 cushion.
After Gates County’s Zariah Rogers banked in a three-pointer from the left wing to tie the game at 10-10 early in the second quarter, Hertford County reeled off eight of the game’s next 11 points to take an 18-13 lead. The Lady Barons answered with a 9-1 run that resulted in a 22-19 advantage. Saunders tallied five of those nine points by sinking a deuce and a trey while Banks and Barber each added a basket.
HCHS responded, closing out the first half with a three-pointer and a deuce by Mitchell that staked the Lady Bears to a 24-22 lead at the break.
A three-ball by Mitchell from the left corner and a pair of Townsell free throws allowed the Lady Bears to build a 29-24 lead just before the midway mark of the third quarter. That lead grew as high as six (32-26) when White buried a three-pointer, but Gates closed the period with back-to-back baskets from Riddick and Saunders to whittle their deficit down to two points (32-30) entering the fourth quarter.
In addition to the game-high performance by Saunders, Barber added seven points to the win total. Woodley (5), Banks (4), Riddick (3), Zarish Rogers (3), and Malana Jordan (2) rounded out the GCHS scoring.
In Friday’s tournament championship game, the Lady Barons had no answer defensively for Northeastern High School’s Jasmine Felton who scored a game-high 30 points to lead the Lady Eagles to a 59-41 win.
London Barber (12) and Banks (10) led the way for Gates County. Riddick (6), Saunders (6), Woodley (4), and Semayia Cross (3) added to the GCHS effort.
Banks, Barber, and Saunders were named to the All-Tournament team representing Gates County.
Gates County (8-2 overall) will open conference play this week with home games on Jan. 3 vs. Martin County and Jan. 5 vs. Bertie.