The No. 2-ranked Southeast Raleigh girls’ basketball team played with heavy hearts Saturday. Still, the Bulldogs won a game that senior Mariah Partin said was dedicated to former schoolmate Kari Watson, who was murdered.
Partin sparked a fourth-quarter surge to lead the undefeated Bulldogs (10-0) to a 55-45 win over No. 6 Durham Riverside (9-3) in the opening round of the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational at Cary Academy.
“This game was personal for us,” Partin said. “We’re dedicating the rest of our season to her. She was a big supporter of our team.”
Watson, a 2015 Southeast Raleigh graduate who was home from her freshman year at Winston Salem State University on holiday break, was killed in a shooting Wednesday night. Investigators charged Xavier JaQuan Sanders with murder on Thursday.
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The Bulldogs’ heavy hearts may have contributed to their slow start, but Partin found her touch in the fourth quarter. She hit three 3-pointers and scored 14 of her game-high 19 points in the final period.
“Once I hit that first shot (in the fourth quarter), they kept passing me the ball, and it kept my confidence up,” Partin said.
Her first 3-pointer gave the Bulldogs (10-0) a 36-35 lead, and the second gave them a 40-37 advantage. Southeast, which trailed 20-19 at halftime and 32-31 after three periods, led the rest of the way.
Jada McMillian added 16 points for the Bulldogs. Riverside was led by Zaria Rogers’ 13 points.
The game was otherwise a Top 10 showdown with Southeast Raleigh remaining unbeaten and No. 6 Riverside falling to 9-3.
The Bulldogs advance to play Winston-Salem Prep at 4 p.m. in Monday’s second round. Durham Riverside faces North Pitt at 5:30 p.m. on Monday in the consolation bracket.
Other Holiday Invitational scores
Hillside 59, Apex 44: The No. 3-ranked Hornets were led by 26 points from Elisia Grissett. Michaela Thompson added 12 points and Kelbi Lewis 10. For Apex, Elle Hepburn finished with 22 points and Samantha Michel had 10.
Williamston’s Riverside 55, Ravenscroft 41: Lynn Johnson led Ravenscroft with 15 points. Kayla Jones scored 21 for Williamston Riverside.
Williamston Riverside faces Hillside in a second round at 2:30 p.m. Apex meets Ravenscroft at 10 a.m.
USports Round Robin bracket
Leesville Road 52, Jordan 31: Lauren McNamara-Clement led the No. 8 Pride with 18 points, and Shea Plocharczyk added 11 points. Jordan’s Talia Barnes scored nine points.
East Wake 64, Fayetteville’s Trinity Christian 31: Angel Rizor led East Wake with a double-double of 21 points and 21 rebounds. She also contributed six assists and five blocked shots.
In Monday’s games at Cary Academy, East Wake and Jordan play at 11:30 a.m., and Leesville Road and Trinity Christian meet at 1 p.m.