By Dave Malenick
HOLLY SPRINGS- Holly Springs held off a feisty Wake Forest-Rolesville 65-58 in the first round of the state 4A girls basketball playoffs. The Hawks have reached the second round for three straight years.
Holly Springs (25-3) will host Hillside (24-4) on Wednesday.
Kiara Leslie led all players with 22 points, as the Golden Hawks expanded a 30-26 halftime advantage to
a 65-49 lead at one point in the final quarter.
The Cougars, (13-13) were the No. 4 seed from Cap-Eight conference. Senior forward Kiara Jones-Doctor and junior Tatyana Jackson each scored 16 points to pace WF-R, while Ayauna Morton added 15.
“We came out and battled and played hard, and you can’t ask for much more than that,” said WF-R
head coach Amy Sarratt. “Leslie is a great player and they’re a well-coached team, but we turned the
ball over way too much tonight.”
The pivotal point in the game came a few minutes before halftime. The Cougars, who had found success
getting the ball down low to Jones-Doctor, led 22-19 and had five opportunities to increase their lead on
a seemingly never-ending possession of offensive rebounds.
Leslie finally came out with the ball, raced up the court, scored and was fouled. When she missed the
free throw, all the players on the court, except an alert Ka’la Jordan, stopped. Jordan layed it in to give
Holly Springs a lead they would never relinquish.
Jordan came out firing in the third period, knocking down two three pointers early to extend the Hawks
lead to ten points. The senior guard, who finished with 15 points, also ignited several fast breaks by
forcing the Cougars into turnovers.
“We hit a lot of shots in the third,” said Holly Springs head coach Richard Young. “Ka’la stepped up with
some big three’s, and we went to man to man defense because the zone just hadn’t been working.”
Leslie held Jones-Doctor in check following intermission, and despite some athletic plays by Jackson and
WF-R senior Kenyata Harris, the Cougars were never able to regain the momentum they enjoyed in the
Hannah Buckley also paced the Golden Hawks with 12 points.
Despite the loss, Sarratt knows the young Cougars will come back next year poised to take another step.
“We gained a lot of confidence during the second half of the season and know we can compete with
anybody,” Sarratt said.