Many kids enjoyed two snow days off from school, but the Neuse Charter and Princeton athletic directors recognized their basketball teams were itching to get back on the court.
With Neuse Charter re-opening on a two-hour delay and Princeton having an optional teacher workday, Neuse Charter AD Gail Browning and Princeton counterpart Bruce Proctor spoke over the phone Tuesday night about clearing any obstacles to so their teams could meet as planned on Wednesday at Neuse Charter’s Dr. Patricia Brady Harris Gymnasium.
“This game was already delayed once from December for exams,” Browning said. “It’s a rivalry game. The kids wanted to play.”
Neuse Charter’s girls came from behind in the second half to win 45-38 and break a tie for first place in the Carolina 1A Conference. The Cougars improved to 12-3 overall and 4-0 in conference play, while Princeton dropped to 6-5 and 3-1.
In the nightcap, the boys’ game was about leaving the other behind in the cellar. Princeton’s 29-point second quarter led the Bulldogs (6-7, 1-3) to a 69-57 victory over the Cougars (2-11, 0-4).
Neuse Charter coach Daniel Casey said he didn’t know what to expect from his team. After playing a third game of the week on Thursday last week, he gave his Cougars Friday off and the weekend off. Then the snow hit canceled school for two days.
“I think that’s why the game started out slow for both teams in the first half,” he said. “We weren’t hitting our shots, but we were still playing good defense. I told the girls if we keep playing defense the shots will fall.”
Junior Kiki Webb listened well. She scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half, including a 12-point outburst in the final period.
Neuse Charter was clinging to a 28-27 lead early in the fourth quarter when Abby Lampe stripped a Princeton player of a rebound under the Cougars’ basket. Webb grabbed the loose ball and was fouled as she scored.
She converted the three-point free throw, and she scored the Cougars’ next eight points with a drive to the basket and two three-point field goals for a 39-34 lead with 4:02 to play.
“I just felt I had to get my team moving, and I got my adrenaline going,” Webb said. “It feels great to beat our rival and be in first place.”
Casey said the win marks the first time the Cougars have stood alone in first place since joining the Carolina 1A four years ago. Neuse Charter’s Kayla Hamm finished with 10 points.
For Princeton, Takira Cummings scored 16 points. Jazmine McCain and Emily Ricks added nine points each.
Princeton didn’t look like a last-place team when the Bulldogs erupted for 29 points and held Neuse Charter to 15 to turn a 15-12 first quarter deficit into a 41-30 halftime lead.
“We came out and played hard and we’re happy with the result,” senior Austin Sullivan said. “We’re still a young team, and this was only my second game back. We’re learning to move the ball together like we did in the second quarter.”
Sullivan missed two games with a shoulder injury, but he posted a double-double on his return with 13 points and 10 rebounds. His brother, sophomore Colby Sullivan, led the Bulldogs with 19 points. Garrett Klein added 15.
For Neuse Charter, C.J. Rouse scored 16 points and William Noles 13.