Kiara Leslie scored 14 of her game-high 35 points in the fourth quarter to help the Holly Springs girls basketball team break open a close game and earn a 70-62 win over Durham Hillside.
By Dave Malenick
HOLLY SPRINGS -- Kiara Leslie had been waiting three years for a moment like this to arrive, and in her
biggest game of the season the Holly Springs junior delivered in a big way for her team, pushing the Hawks into uncharted territory.
Leslie scored 14 of her game-high 35 points in the fourth quarter to help the Hawks girls basketball team break open a close game and earn a 70-62 win over Durham Hillside in the second
round of the NCHSAA 4A playoffs on Wednesday.
Holly Springs (26-3) advanced to the third round for the first time in school history, and will travel to play unbeaten Millbrook (28-0) on Friday.
“This was very special, we made a lot of history,” said Leslie, who also had eight rebounds, six steals
and four blocks. “We’re playing tougher teams now and we will have to continue to play like we did
Both the Golden Hawks and the fifth-seeded Hornets (24-5) finished second in their respective
conferences, but won their conference tournaments a week ago, carrying momentum into the
The game lived up to its billing as a battle between two of the best teams in the area. Holly Springs held
a 48-47 lead entering the final quarter, but went on a 9-0 run to start the period and seize control from
the resilient Hornets.
Leslie and senior guard Ka’la Jordan (16 points) took the fourth quarter over, with Leslie scoring 14 of
her points in the period and Jordan adding eight. Both girls were instrumental in breaking the tough
Hillside pressure defense and getting the ball safely up the court in the final period.
“We had prepared and worked on our press break after we had seen Hillside play in the High School
Invitational,” Holly Springs coach Richard Young said. “I’m just so blessed and happy to be a part of this wonderful team effort. I told the team afterwards, ‘Enjoy the moment!’”
Young praised the job senior guards Jordan, Hannah Buckley and Linnea Hoops did against the lightning
quick Hornet guards. Although the trio of Tykyrah Williams (18 points), Justine Lyon (14) and Mylea
McKennith (9 points, 7 assists) scored, the Golden Hawks forced enough turnovers and got enough stops
to limit their playmaking potential, especially in the second half.
The turning point in the game came with less than three minutes in the third quarter and Holly Springs
trailing by three points. Hadiya Howard grabbed a rebound in the midst of several Hornets and alertly
passed the ball to Kelsey Holloway, who nailed a three pointer to tie the game at 45-all.