Green Hope’s big three of Kelly Fitzgerald, Rachel Argabright and Nia Washington led the Falcons past Panther Creek for the third time this season, dispatching the Catamounts 65-53 in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A girls basketball playoffs
Fitzgerald scored 20 points and Argabright and Washington had 18 each as Green Hope won for the second consecutive game over the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference foe. The Falcons (24-4) beat PC in the SWAC tournament final last week.
“It’s always great to beat your rivals,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s three times in the year.”
Playing the Catamounts for the fourth time this season “was mentally tiring,” Fitzgerald said.
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“We’ve played them so much,” Fitzgerald said. “You just want someone new to play against. But we definitely came out and gave it to them.”
Panther Creek (18-10) led 6-2 early before the big three powered a 15-2 run to close the first quarter. Fitzgerald finished the spree with a driving basket.
“Green Hope came out firing and knocked down several big shots,” Catamounts coach Danielle Moore said. “We didn’t execute and finish. A couple of those easy shots go, the game may look a little different, but that’s the story of basketball.”
PC shot 33.3 percent in the first half, hitting seven of 21 shots, many close to the basket. The Catamounts inched to within nine in the third quarter, but Argabright drilled one of her four 3-pointers to keep Green Hope in command.
Argabright’s shooting, Washington’s stellar inside play and Fitzgerald’s floor game make Green Hope a dangerous team.
“It definitely makes us a harder team to scout, just because we have so many weapons among us three, Fitzgerald said. “It’s really fun when we start clicking and scoring together.”
Zanah Boyd led PC with 20 points, including 14 in the second half. Gabby Rogers had 12 and senior Shotomei Greaux closed her career with 11. The Catamounts locker room was surprisingly boisterous after the game, perhaps a signal of how far Panther Creek has come.
“This group is special,” Moore said. “They were able to do some things that hadn’t been done at Panther Creek with the girls basketball program up to this point. … You can’t hang it on that last game. We’ve had a great season, made a good run, and it’s been a good year for us.”
Green Hope will continue its season against Wakefield on Thursday, hoping to make a deep run in the playoffs.
“It all depends on if our defense comes and we do what we’re supposed to do on offense,” Falcons coach Mike Robinson said. “Our defense is a key. If we can stop some people, then I think we’ve got a shot.”