Pungo shakes off rust, blows past Lady Knights

Published 12:30 am Wednesday, January 17, 2018

PANTEGO — It took some time for Pungo to look like the team that poured 75 points on Pungo when the two met in Belhaven the week before Christmas.

The Lady Raiders were suffering from the exact issues coach Melanie Sawyer expected. She was weary of them losing their way over the holiday break. That was only made worse after snow and ice kept Pungo off the court even longer.

But it overcame a sluggish start, erupting in the fourth quarter for a 60-28 win over rival Terra Ceia. The Lady Knights got a quick 3-pointer to kick start the final period. It closed their deficit to 35-23. Six Lady Raiders scored in the fourth as they outscored Terra Ceia, 25-8, in the final eight minutes.

“We’re not back in sync yet. We had the two weeks off for Christmas, and then the snow. We’ve only had one game prior to this, so we’re not back into a flow yet,” Sawyer said. Pungo edged Ridgecroft, 36-35, on Friday. “Towards the end, we started getting it and feeling it a little more.

“You never know what to expect. We came out slow and we were flat. I sat them down in the third quarter and told them that this was it. We’re going to come together and suck it up, or (Terra Ceia) is going to come back and win.”

Center Brinson Edmondson had Pungo’s first basket of the fourth. Emma Allen spread the floor out a bit, and Emily Spencer followed that with a 3-pointer. Riley Cutler and Lauren Kellie Ricks sped the game up with steals that turned into layups and tic-tac-toe passing.

“We started to run our fast break. We started getting the ball down the court,” Sawyer said. “When they started with their press, we were able to get the fast break and spread the court open.”

Emma Allen smothers Sarah Glass as she tries to drive the baseline.

It took time to arrive to that point, though. Rebecca Hodges’ shot off the glass punctuated a 6-0 run to begin the game. After that, though, baskets were tough for Pungo to come by.

Ashley James’ 3 at the 5:45 mark of the second was Terra Ceia’s first made field goal. Pungo didn’t capitalize on the drought, so that trey cut the Lady Raiders’ lead to 10-5.

That seemed to be a wake-up call for Pungo. It scored the next dozen points in a row to help it to a 27-9 halftime advantage.

James nailed another triple in the third to help bring the game within reach down the stretch, but Pungo adjusted to keep her in check.