Eastern Wake: Sports

Warriors break first-round curse

The third time may be the charm, but the East Wake girls’ basketball team learned Sunday that, in fact, the fourth time breaks the streak.

Senior point guard Ciera Williams had tasted the sourness of losing in the first round of the state playoffs each of the past three seasons.

Three times the Warriors had secured a high seed in the 4A NCHSAA playoffs, and three times they had lost by five or fewer points on their home court.

In 2012, it was Cary upending the Warriors, 51-47. In 2013, it was conference rival Harnett Central ending a 10-game losing streak to East Wake with a 61-58 win. In 2014, it was Wilmington Laney holding on for a 50-47 triumph.

A Holly Springs squad with zero starting seniors was slotted as East Wake’s first round opponent on Sunday. At last, the Warriors had an opportunity to taste sweetness, and taste it they did. The team unleashed its frustrations in a 70-39 demolition of the visiting Hawks.

“We were tired of losing in the first round,” Williams said. “We knew we had come in here and win.

“We didn’t care how much we won by. It’s the first in a long time (we’ve done so), and it’s a big step for us.”

Head coach Toni Vick Dupree echoed her player’s sentiments.

“It feels good to get it out of the way. It’s been on the girls’ minds, and my mind as well: ‘We’ve got to get past the first round.’ ”

A year ago, senior shooting guard Briana Holder was struggling to withhold her emotions after yet another heartbreaking loss.

Following East Wake’s season-ending defeat to Laney on Feb. 24, 2014, Holder offered a mantra for the following season’s team – this current team – to play by.

“Start out with intensity from the beginning of the season and every game play like it’s our last game. The main key is (to) just play with heart, because we’ve got everything else,” Holder said.

One year and six days later, Holder and the Warriors avoided playing what could’ve been their last game by following such words.

But Holder already has higher goals in mind.

“This is a big accomplishment for us,” she said on Sunday. “But now it’s time to go to the championship.”