Wilmington’s Hoggard High got hot at the free throw line at just the right time Friday night to end the Broughton Capitals’ girls season 55-50 in the semifinals of the NCHSAA 4A Eastern Regional.
Broughton (20-7) led a good portion of the game, but the 26-4 Vikings tied the score at 46-46 on a drive by Julia Buehler (18 points) with 1:20 left in the game.
Then with 31 seconds left, a Broughton turnover, personal foul, and technical foul opened the door at the free throw line and Hoggard cashed in, hitting its next 9 free throws to open up a 55-50 lead with 9.6 seconds to play. Senior Buehler hit five of the nine successful attempts and sophomore Tara Poteat hit the other four.
Hoggard will play Southeast Raleigh for the regional championship at Fayetteville’s Crown Coliseum at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Bulldogs advanced with a 71-59 win over Athens Drive.
It was a disappointing loss for the Caps, but coach Brad McCorkle found it easy to be pleased with his team.
“It was a tough loss, but we accomplished a lot, 20 wins, and being a 16th seed and getting to the final eight,” McCorkle said. “It took a lot of energy just to get here. The win over Millbrook was huge for us, and then we went to Greenville to play the next night. It’s been an exhausting trip and it showed a little bit tonight.
“Plus Hoggard shot well from the free throw line, 14 of 18 tonight, and that had a lot to do with it, too,” McCorkle added.
Broughton senior Kaila Ealey did her best to keep her team’s chances alive, driving to the basket for 29 points, dishing four assists and picking six steals. Junior Brittney Smith scored 7 and sophomore Marcy Waters, 6.
“We had a great season,” said Ealey, an N.C. State recruit. “But today we didn’t handle the end of the game real well. We ran out of gas.”
Hoggard coach Boubacar Aw, in his third year at the Wilmington school, said, “Broughton was a very good, a very disciplined team and things were going their way most of the game, but at the end we did the things we needed to do at the right time.
“Southeast Raleigh is very good and physically very imposing, but we’re not bad ourselves. Who would not want to have this group of girls? They’re tough, great girls,” Aw said.