Hillside’s Elisia Grissett scored 16 of her game-high 24 points in the second half as Hillside, No. 2 in The News & Observer’s Top 15, ran past No. 4 Southeast Raleigh 48-42 on Monday night.
Grissett, a 6-foot-2 junior who plays point guard for the Hornets, was clutch in the closing minutes. In addition to making all four of her free throws in the final 58 seconds, she came up with two key rebounds to keep the Bulldogs at bay.
“You’ve got a player like her who can create her shot, find ways to score and help get her teammates open for scores,” Hornets coach Ovester Grays said. “Her and Kelbi (Lewis), both. Kelbi doesn’t get much attention, but she can really make a difference on the offensive end.”
Up nine halfway through the final quarter, Hillside (16-1) spread the floor, with Grissett and Lewis dribbling lots of time off the clock.
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“They can’t guard me and Kelbi,” Grissett said, who added that she and Lewis “have been a duo since middle school.”
Southeast Raleigh (12-3) lost for the second time this season to Hillside, with shooting woes hampering the Bulldogs. This time, Southeast shot 39 percent from the floor and made just 1 of 7 3-pointers.
“It was kind of a mirror image to when we played them the first time,” Bulldogs coach Nicole Meyers said. “We missed 20 layups that game, so there were a lot of point-blank looks that I was hoping we’d capitalize on today that we just didn’t.”
Southeast played without starter Danica Lucas, who was out with a concussion, and Tamia Hicks had limited playing time because of foul trouble. Jada McMillian scored 19 for the Bulldogs.
“She really would’ve helped us tonight from the guard position,” Meyers said of Lucas. “With that being said, we have enough people on our team for other folks to step up and compete, and it just wasn’t as consistent as I would’ve liked it.”
Both Grays and Meyers know the two teams could see each other again in the state playoffs.
“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There are probably three teams in the Triangle that can come out of the East,” Grays said. “They are certainly one of them.”
Meyers: “We always seem to be in the same bracket, so I’m sure we’ll see them again.”
The Southeast boys (11-5) gutted out a 63-61 victory in overtime, despite missing 8 of 14 free throws in the final 1:05 of regulation and overtime. Malik Bullock’s 3-pointer – after Malik Ford snared an offensive rebound – gave the Bulldogs a 59-56 lead early in OT.
“Football mentality,” Bulldogs coach John Baker said of Ford. “Not a basketball player, but a football player who has contributed great to us this year. I always love football players who play basketball. He’s going to go get it, and that’s what you need.”
Hillside (3-15) had chances to tie it in overtime, but Xavier Young missed a free throw with 14.9 seconds remaining, and Damon Sanders missed a jumper in the lane as time expired.
“Oxygen mode: Do or die,” Baker said. “We’re on life support, and that’s a good thing. I told them it helps us down the road. Any time you can gut a game out and win it that way, it’s going to help you as you go through the season – especially winning games on the road.”
Ford scored 18 points for Southeast, with Bullock getting 11. Ten players scored for the Hornets, led by Dontrey Byrd’s 12.