With Southeast Raleigh trailing by five points and its second-round girls’ high school basketball playoff game against East Wake winding down Monday night, Southeast Raleigh coach Nicole Meyers asked her leg-weary players what defense they would feel comfortable playing.
Meyers got the right answer.
“I knew that my girls were tired and I asked them at the bench what defense did they feel comfortable with, and senior Cherelle Turrentine said, ‘Full-court man-to-man,’” Meyers said.
Southeast Raleigh, seeded No. 2 in the 4A East, turned up the pressure and went on an 8-0 run over the final three minutes to rally for a 60-57 victory.
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The Bulldogs (23-3) will host Durham Hillside, a 57-52 second-round winner against Greensboro Dudley, in a third-round game at 6 Tuesday night. Southeast Raleigh beat Hillside 51-50 during the regular seson. A spot in the Eastern Regional will go to Tuesday’s winner.
East Wake, the 15th seed in the East, had finished second to Southeast Raleigh in the Greater Neuse River 4A, battling the Bulldogs hard but coming up empty in two regular-season meetings.
The playoff rematch was a battle as well.
“I give East Wake a lot of credit,” Meyers said. “They played a heck of a basketball game. They took it to us. But the one thing I can credit my girls, even with their backs against the wall, they didn’t give up.
“I’m so proud of their effort.”
Senior Amber Richardson led the Bulldogs with 19 points, reaching 1,000 for her career with her sixth point of the game.
Richardson hit a pair of free throws with 1 minute, 20 seconds left to tie the score at 57, and the Bulldogs got a pair of free throws from Jada McMillian with 55.6 seconds left and one from Jade Phillips with 43.6 seconds to take a 60-57 lead.
East Wake (18-7), which went 0-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final three minutes, had the ball with 11.6 seconds left. The Warriors missed a 3-point attempt and a follow shot was blocked out of bounds. The referees at first signaled the game was over, then they huddled and put a second back on the clock.
East Wake got the ball to Angel Rizor, but her 3-point attempt out of the corner was short.
“I knew if we could make a stop the way we had been doing the last couple of defensive possessions, we could play defense for one second without fouling,” Meyers said.
Phillips and Kia Abrams added 12 points each for the Bulldogs.
East Wake was led by Kianna Wynn with 19 points. Ciera Williams had 12 and Tamira Knuckles 11.
The Warriors led 17-12 at the end of the first quarter and 46-44 entering the final but could not put away the perennially powerful Bulldogs.
“We needed to hold the lead at the end and they stepped up their intensity,” East Wake coach Toni Vick Dupree said. “They had a little more intensity at the end and we missed a lot of free throws.
“But I’m very proud of my team. I thought we played a great game but just came up short. It was a good season.”