The Champions!

Published 6:02 pm Thursday, February 29, 2024

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GATESVILLE – Featuring a roster that’s full of young talent, leave it to the lone senior on Gates County High School’s varsity girls team this season to help her squad bring home the biggest prize thus far this year.

Camiya Riddick’s two free throws in the waning moments of Friday’s Four Rivers Conference Tournament championship game proved to be the difference as the Lady Barons knocked off regular season champion Perquimans County, 32-31, to win the title.

The championship game was played at Tarboro High School.

Gates County, who had lost twice to Perquimans during the regular season, led by as many as 11 points in Friday’s title game.

“We had some costly turnovers after building that lead,” said GCHS head coach Hope Melton. “Perquimans rallied to take a one-point lead with less than 25 seconds left. We had the ball at that point, but turned it over again. This time, Semayia Cross came up with a steal and drove to the basket where she was fouled.”

The result of that contact knocked Cross to the floor where she suffered a cut to her chin.

“The bleeding wouldn’t immediately stop, so I had to go to my bench for an injury substitute to shoot the free throws and Camiya made both of them to give us the 32-31 lead.

Perquimans failed to connect from the field on the game’s ensuing possession, allowing the Lady Barons to celebrate their big win.

“I’m so proud of these girls for the way they played this year and for the way they represented our school,” said Melton, whose club posted a 20-4 record during the regular season.

“I think the balance we had offensively and the way we played tough on defense led to our success,” she added. “Plus we’re a young team as Camiya is our only senior.”

Three of those underclassmen led the way for Gates County on Friday. London Barber and Kyndall Banks each scored nine points. Semiyah Saunders chipped in four points and a team-high seven rebounds.

Gates County (20-4) overall opens the state playoffs at home at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27 vs. #22 Weldon. The Lady Barons are seeded #11 in the Eastern Class 1A Bracket.

“We’re going into the state playoffs with a good head of steam,” noted coach Melton whose squad is now riding an eight-game winning streak. “We hope we can make a good run in the playoffs, but we’ll take it one game at the time.”

UPDATE: Gates County’s girls won their state play-off opener on Tuesday, defeating Weldon, 61-37. London Barber poured in a game-high 24 points to lead the way while Kyndall Banks added 10 points.

GCHS (21-4 overall) moves on to Friday’s second round where they will hit the road to take on #6 Union, a 59-52 winner vs. #27 Neuse on Tuesday.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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