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Southside girls roll to conference tournament crown

By By RYAN ROCKWELL, Sports Writer
CHOCOWINITY -- The phrase "defense wins championships" has never looked more accurate than it did on Friday at Southside High School.
The Southside girls' basketball team has tortured the Four Rivers Conference all year long with their fullcourt press. The Seahawks hosted No. 2 seed Perquimans in the conference championship and dished out 32 tough minutes, walloping the Pirates 51-24.
No. 1 seeded Southside (13-3) forced the Pirates into 20 first half turnovers, 13 in a 20-6 second quarter.
In an anemic first quarter for both teams, Southside scored the only point in the final 3:06 and led 8-4 at quarter's end. Kamiesha Foreman scored all four of Perquimans' points.
The Pirates (13-12) turned the ball over on their first three possessions of the second quarter.
Ashley Sessoms ended the Perquimans drought, nailing a trey just left of the key. Sessoms scored all six of her team's second quarter points, hitting two treys.
However, Sessoms could not prevent the Seahawks from pillaging the Pirates for 90 feet with their zone press. With the score 11-7 in favor of the 'Hawks, Terri Hines' putback began a 10-0 run for Southside. The last six points of the run came off of Pirate turnovers. Shareika Ruffin's three-pointer from the left corner capped the run and made the score 21-7 with a couple minutes to go in the first half.
Sessoms hit another trey, making the score 21-10, but Perquimans did not get any closer. Hines hit back-to-back buckets, including an old-fashioned three-point play, and Sharkeysha Midgette drove the baseline between three defenders to make the score 28-10 at the break. That capped a 7-0 run.
Southside took 10 more shots (8-of-17, 47 percent) than Perquimans (2-of-7, 28.5 percent) in the decisive second quarter.
In the second half, the Seahawk pressure remained, but the Pirates consistently broke the press and were able to get into their halfcourt offensive sets. But Perquimans shot 3-of-12 in the third, while Southside shot 2-of-11. While the Pirates outscored the Seahawks 8-4, scoring the final six points of the quarter, it was not enough to get the Pirates rolling.
The Seahawks opened the fourth with a 6-0 run and then added an 8-0 run after a Tasha Leary trey.
True to their regular season form, the Seahawks were balanced on the offensive end as Ruffin had a game-high 13 points. Midgette had 11 points, Diamond Campbell chipped in with 10 and Hines added nine.
Jefferson said her Seahawks are coming together, but still have areas to improve on as they look forward to hosting their first-round opponent in the state playoffs.
Four Rivers Conference Tournament
Girls Championship Game
PERQUIMANS (24)
Sessoms 6, Leary 8, Foreman 4, Stallings, Spellman, Lassiter, Privott 2, Garner 2, Copeland 2.
SOUTHSIDE (51)
Conrad, Hamilton, Shareika Ruffin 13, Staton 6, Hines 9, Windley, Diamond Campbell 10, Knight 2, Smith, Sharkeysha Midgette 11, Williams, Perez.
Perquimans 4 6 8 6 -- 24
Southside 8 20 4 19 -- 51