CARY — When it comes to conference play, Green Hope seniors Cassidey Sowards and Ashley Williams dont know how to lose. Theyve got the numbers to back it up.
After a gritty 39-35 home win to knock off previously undefeated Holly Springs on Tuesday, the Falcons have won 60 straight games against Tri-9 Conference competition.
It is a streak that includes three 16-0 regular seasons, three runs to conference tournament championships, two regular-season games from this season and one state playoff matchup against a Tri-9 team last winter.
Sowards and Williams were in eighth grade the last time the Falcons (5-1, 2-0) lost to a conference team the 2008 Tri-8 Conference tournament final. Their roles have changed during that time, but now theyre vital leaders as was evident down the stretch Tuesday night.
Sowards made a tying basket with 2:32 and then the go-ahead with 1:42 left. Williams sank two free throws with 6.6 seconds left to all but clinch the win.
(Sowards) shot the ball well tonight. Shes confident when shes driving with that one-hander or hook. She did a super job, Green Hope coach Mike Robinson said. (Williams) is taking what they give her; shes not trying to force it,
Williams had 10 points, four steals and four assists. Sowards finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.
The freshmen look up to Ashley and I, Sowards said. I know I need to put some more points on the board ... and Ive got to step up there and defensively because defense is what wins us basketball games.
Holly Springs (6-1, 2-1) led 20-19 at halftime, but the Falcons pulled ahead 31-27 entering the fourth quarter thanks to a defensive switch.
Using a 1-2-2 zone for most of the third and all of the fourth quarters, Green Hope kept the ball out of the hands of star junior Kiara Leslie.
Ill be honest with you, the defense won the game for us, Robinson said. We didnt shoot very well, but that does attribute to their defense, also. Neither team shot the ball very well.
Leslie finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds, but only 4 points and four rebounds came in the second half.
Were supposed to attack the zone and we didnt look to score we just passed the ball around until Green Hope finally got their hands on it and got turnovers, said Holly Springs coach Richard Young. Its only one game in the conference, so weve got a lot more.
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps