Washington hangs on to clip Lady Eagles

Published 1:14 am Saturday, February 10, 2018

Offensively, Washington didn’t have a made basket in the fourth quarter. Defensively, it managed to stay firm on defense to preserve a 41-38 win over West Craven on senior night Friday.

Neither team had a field goal until the Lady Eagles drained a 3-pointer almost halfway through the fourth. Washington had entered the final eight minutes with a 37-27 lead, but West Craven whittled it down to four, 38-34, after a Deslyn Abrams layup.

However, the visitors were charged with a technical foul after the basket. Senior Cierra Wiggins converted on her chances at the free-throw line, which proved decisive.

“We lost our rhythm — our momentum — when fouls crept up on us,” coach Ralph Biggs said. “When Daria (Jones) fouled out, it was hard. The girls got timid. They couldn’t play the way they wanted to play.

“Hailey (Respass) played a great game. Good thing she stayed with us and didn’t get those fouls because we needed her at the end.”

The Lady Pack scored the first nine points of the contest. Tierra Wiggins capped off the early surge with a layup in transition. Respass, a fellow senior, put her stamp on the game with a jumper from the baseline that pushed Washington’s lead to 11-2 after eight minutes.

Tierra Wiggins stops short for a jump shot on senior night.

Cyntavea Blackledge knocked down a 3-pointer 2:30 into the second. Just when the home side looked like it was going to run away with the game, West Craven responded with three unanswered buckets to trim the deficit to 14-10.

Washington, after leading by just three at halftime, came out firing in the second half. Cierra Wiggins hit a trey right out of the gate. She had seven points in the period, and Blackledge added four from the charity stripe to push the Lady Pack’s advantage to as many as 13 in the third. Jones also used her presence in the post to add a pair of layups.

The win puts Washington above .500 (12-11) at the conclusion of the regular season. It finished tied with South Lenoir (8-4) in the 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference, but the Lady Blue Devils earned the tiebreaker and the No. 2 seed behind undefeated Kinston.

Washington will begin tournament play Monday with a rematch at No. 6 West Craven.

“That’s the way you want to go out: with a win at home,” Biggs said. “We can learn from the mistakes we made that made the game so close. We didn’t do a lot of things to make the win easy, but we fought through it and got the win.”