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Pungo breezes into semifinals with win over Albemarle

By LAIEKE ABEBE

For the Daily News

BELHAVEN — The Pungo Christian Academy girls basketball team dominated Albemarle School from start to finish in a 58-20 victory in the Raiders’ opening game of the Tarheel Independent Conference Tournament Monday night, booking a spot in the semifinals of the tournament being held at Pungo Christian.

“We came out cold, but once we got going, it was smooth sailing,” Raiders head coach Melanie Sawyer. “Our ultimate goal is to get to the conference championship. We have to box out, finish layups, and play good defense to get there.”

Pungo (18-4, 10-2 1A TIC) certainly set the tone early, as it held Albemarle (2-18, 0-11 1A TIC) to only nine points in the first half. The Raiders’ defense forced a lot of turnovers, giving them many extra possessions, which led to their 17-point halftime lead.

From there, Pungo continued to add to its lead by getting a lot of easy shots at the basket. The Raiders forced Albemarle into tough shots and continued to build on its lead through the last two quarters.

Pungo stretched its lead to 25 as the fourth quarter started and nearly pushed it to 40 points late in the game, which would’ve set off a running clock. It was a job well done according to Sawyer, but like a typical coach always looking to improve her team, she mentioned there is always room for her team to improve.

Emma Allen led the way with 16 points for the Raiders. Josie Hudnell, Riley Cutler and Emma Williams added eight points each in a balanced effort for Pungo. Lauren Kellie Ricks had seven points and a team-high 11 rebounds as well for Sawyer’s team. The team’s hope of a return trip to the NCISAA 1A state tournament was bolstered by its performance against Albemarle.

“It’s all about the fundamentals this time of year,” Sawyer said. “We haven’t reached our peak and we can still play better basketball. Tonight, we took care of business and a game like this can help us become a better team.”

After winning their opening-round matchup, the Raiders advance to Friday’s semifinals to take on the winner of today’s matchup between Terra Ceia and Lawrence Academy.