Published: Feb 19, 2012 11:43 AM
Modified: Feb 19, 2012 11:47 PM
Lady Falcons rout underdog Mustangs for title
Green Hope wins its 57th straight conference game, third straight Tri-Nine title
CARY - For the first time as long as any league coach could remember, there was some intrigue heading into the Tri-Nine Conference tournament title game.Although Green Hope's Lady Falcons dominated the league for the third straight year, they were facing a red-hot Middle Creek team that had already upset the No. 2- and No. 3-seeds during its Tri-Nine tournament run.Despite those upsets, Middle Creek needed to win the conference tournament in order to advance to the postseason.But the Falcons dashed those hopes by halftime by building a 42-18 lead, and led by as many as 38 in the fourth quarter before finishing the 68-47 rout.Green Hope junior Ashley Williams filled the stat sheet with 11 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and seven steals and Vanderbilt recruit, senior Kristen Gaffney scored 33 points in the Falcons' 57th straight Tri-Nine win."This is icing on the cake," Gaffney said. "And it's always exciting when you get to do that in front of your home crowd, so this one is a little more special."While Green Hope (25-2) is likely to receive the No. 2 overall seed in the Mideast pod in this week's playoffs, the Mustangs - who were led by Jasmine Shaw's 21 points on Friday - will be shut out.Middle Creek (14-13), the sixth-seed in the Tri-Nine has the third-highest winning percentage among 4A schools who did not receive an automatic playoff bid, and there are only two wild-card bids in the 4A playoffs."I'm really, really proud of my kids. It's been a fun week just to get here and I think it says a lot about our heart and desire," said Middle Creek coach Wes Petty."We're just heartbroken we couldn't get it done."While Gaffney's senior class three-peated the Tri-Nine, she did not win her third straigh conference player of the year award. That went to Holly Springs sophomore Kiara Leslie, the only player in the league to average a double-double.The Tri-Nine's first team included Gaffney, Williams, Leslie, Cary's Whitney Coleman and Panther Creek's Allie Tuttle and Kayla Seymour.The second team had Cary's Azura Stevens, Athens Drive's Megan Gorman, Holly Springs' Syrenna McLean, Middle Creek's Besty Dohrer and Fuquay-Varina's Curisa Johnson and Camille Baker.Panther Creek's Geoff Bowman was named coach of the year by his peers after leading the Catamounts to their best record in school history.Teams found out their playoff destinations on Saturday.To see the playoff pairings for this week, go to the PrepsNow blog at newsobserver.com.
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps