Plymouth falls to Pender in regionals
By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — Despite tying or outscoring Pender for three out of the four quarters played in Thursday night’s NCHSAA Class 1-A regional showdown at J.H. Rose High School, Plymouth watched its playoff hopes come to an end with a heartbreaking 46-45 loss to the Patriots.
Heading into the matchup, point guard play figured to be the deciding factor. That’s just what happened as Pender point guard Jannetta Robinson’s 17 points carried the Patriots (25-5) to the regional championship game.
Robinson burned the Vikings’ defense for 10 first-quarter points to give Pender a whopping 17-4 lead at the end of the quarter.
The 13-point deficit proved to be too much for Plymouth (18-3) to handle.
By halftime the Vikings were down 29-16 and, having seen enough of Robinson’s scoring, Hooker deployed a box-and-one on her with Sakina Brown drawing the defensive duties.
The scheme worked as Brown locked Robinson up and limited her to four second-half points.
Shutting down Pender’s top scoring option also had a positive effect on the Vikings’ offense.
Plymouth played feisty in the second half, stealing several passes and dribbles which allowed Whitney Stokes to go for a team-high 20 points, and Brown to tally 15.
Stokes and Brown were gutsy late in the game.
The two buried several big shots to slowly pull themselves within six points of the Patriots heading into the fourth.
Down 46-42 with 20 seconds left to play, Stokes drove the length of the court and buried a 15-footer to make it 46-44 Pender.
On the ensuing possession, the Vikings put Robinson on the line for a one-and-one situation. Robinson missed her first shot, and Plymouth’s low post banger, Khadiya Young, came up with the rebound and promptly called timeout.
After the stoppage of play, Plymouth got the ball to Stokes, who raced up court and fired off a three from the right wing which bounced off the rim.
The scrappy Stokes followed her shot and, as the clocked ticked down, was able to draw a shooting foul with 1.4 seconds left in the game.
Stokes missed the first free throw and hit the second, pulling the Vikings within 46-45.
All Pender had to do was inbound the ball to end the game, and end the season for the Vikings.
Pender will play East Bladen for the regional championship on Saturday.
NCHSAA Class 1-A Girls
Plymouth 4 12 16 13 — 45
Pender 17 12 10 7 — 46
Whitney Stokes 20, Sakina Brown 15, Dance 4, Sutton 2, Young 2.
Gresham 8, Jannetta Robinson 17, Crist 7, Seabrooks 2, Holmes 4, Roper 2.