Second-half surge sparks Spring Hill

Ellerbe girls lose halftime lead, ballgame

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ELLERBE — When Shelina Locklear drained a 3-pointer to pull her Ellerbe squad to a tie with visiting Spring Hill, she couldn’t help but smile.

But only for a minute. After all, there was still a lot of time left on the clock. Unfortunately, there was far too much time for the Wildcats to hold off the Spartans as Spring Hill rallied for a convincing 28-12 victory Tuesday night in Ellerbe.

The win moved Spring Hill to 2-6 on the season while Ellerbe dropped to 1-9.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Michaela Turner looks for an open teammate while a Spring Hill defender keeps up the pressure.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Michaela Turner looks for an open teammate while a Spring Hill defender keeps up the pressure.

Spring Hill led 5-2 after the first quarter when the Wildcat Shannon Lassiter hit the second of two free throw attempts to pull within a simple field goal. Jakayla Gibson’s jumper lifted the Spartans to a 7-3 advantage, but Ellerbe came roaring back when Locklear made the steal and took the ball the length of the court and nailed a contested jumper. The bucket brought Ellerbe to within 7-5 with 3:19 left in the second quarter.

Locklear’s tre knotted the game 8-8 only 70 seconds later. Things were on the upswing and the chances of the Wildcats earning their second win in this, the regular season finale, seemed possible.

Then Spring Hill coach Edward Cain and his team drew serious. He implemented a pressure defense that his girls executed almost flawlessly. As for the Wildcats — well, their opponents were bigger, stronger and faster. They simply couldn’t keep up.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Shelina Locklear scored seven of her team's 12 points in the loss.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Shelina Locklear scored seven of her team’s 12 points in the loss.

“I have a young team,” Ellerbe coach Nellie Harrington said in comparison to the Spartans’ squad, which featured five eighth-graders. “I have three returners from last year. The inexperience showed.”

The intensity with which Spring Hill opened the third quarter “kind of freaked ’em out,” Harrington said. “They were confused.”

The pressure caused the inexperienced Wildcats to momentarily forget the basics, including passing on assignments to an incoming sub and rebounding — especially on offense. In short, the Wildcats were frustrated.

“My girls were not comfortable,” Harrington said.

It showed early and often in the third quarter and beyond. Jahkayla Walker’s field goal 18 seconds into the period lifted the Spartans to a 10-9 lead. They’d never relinquish that advantage. Walker hit the second of two free throw attempts with 3:53 left in the third for an 11-9 lead.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Harrington called a timeout 32 seconds later to get her team to regroup. It didn’t work. Spring Hill continued its relentless defensive effort that created numerous offensive opportunities for the Spartans.

Jakayla Gibson hit an easy layup for a 13-9 lead with 2:52 to play in the third and Anitra Ross’ bucket put Spring Hill up 18-9 — the midway point of an 20-2 run that was disrupted when Ellerbe’s Caylie Barbour hit a free throw with 25.2 seconds remaining in the game.

Locklear led the Wildcats with seven points while Lassiter and Hailey Butler added two points apiece. Barbour’s free throw was her lone point of the game.

Filed in: Ellerbe/Norman, Latest Headlines, Sports

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