MEBANE — Green Hope girls’ basketball coach Mike Robinson returned to his old stomping grounds at Eastern Alamance with hopes of getting playoff-style atmosphere and competition from some teams just west of the Triangle.
He got his wish, and he also got three wins.
Led by tournament MVP Ashley Williams’ 29 points, the Falcons held off Southern Alamance 53-51 to capture the fifth annual Eastern Alamance Holiday Hoopla title Friday night.
After a season-opening loss to undefeated Southeast Raleigh, Green Hope (11-1) has won 11 straight.
“I knew coming down here that there would be some good competition, and that’s what we need right now. To keep going, keep moving and doing what we’re going to do,” said Robinson, who coached at Eastern Alamance for 14 years prior to arriving at Green Hope.
The two sides met in the second round of last year’s N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 4A state playoffs, but that night Green Hope won by 35 as state player of the year Kristen Gaffney scored 43 points.
This year’s meeting in the tournament finale was nip and tuck throughout, though Green Hope led after each quarter.
The largest lead of the game came late in the fourth when Green Hope finally took a six-point lead, only after the Patriots had overcome the previous largest lead of the game (five points) to take a 40-38 lead early that same quarter.
There were plenty of Patriots supporters trying to rally their team to victory, but the closing minutes sent the patrons from Cary home happy. Green Hope got back-to-back stops and turned them into points before finishing the game out at the free throw line.
“Games like this are hard on me, but as far as the crowd is concerned, it’s great,” Robinson said.
Williams, who led the state in assists last year, showed her scoring prowess this tournament, finishing with 77 points in three games. She shot 3-of-6 from beyond the arc, 9-of-13 from the field and 9-of-11 from the free throw line in the title game.
Southern Alamance got 24 points from its star guard Shaylen Burnett, but Williams and others made sure that the Patriots’ No. 2 scoring option, Hollie Boggs, rarely got open. Boggs had just seven points with one 3-pointer.
For Williams, getting open was something she was able to do with ease thanks to her Falcons teammates.
“I definitely wasn’t doing it myself,” Williams said. “We work hard in practice to teach ourselves the plays and run through them and do them right so everybody coming in knows what they’re doing and setting the screens right.”
Joining Williams on the 11-player all-tournament team were teammates Jaria Martin and Cassidey Sowards.
Cedar Ridge won the 7th-place game earlier in the day against Sanderson. Riverside defeated Cary for the 5th-place game and host Eastern Alamance held off Burlington Williams for third place.
Cedar Ridge’s Kyley Clark, Sanderson’s Bria Gibson, Riverside’s Zaria Rogers and Cary’s Whitney Coleman also made the all-tournament team.
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps