A last-second floater was on the mark but just short as Southeast Raleigh was denied a perfect season and the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A girls basketball championship. Northwest Guilford hung on to defeat the Bulldogs 36-34 on Saturday at Reynolds Coliseum.
It is the third time in four seasons Southeast Raleigh (32-1) has finished as the runner-up.
“This was a tough one for us. We weren’t able to do some of the things that we were typically able to do as far as pushing the ball in transition and getting some easy baskets,” Southeast Raleigh coach Nicole Meyers said. “But one thing I appreciated from our group was the fight they had, even in the midst of adversity.”
The Bulldogs’ comeback effort nearly worked after being down five with less than five minutes to play.
Northwest Guilford (30-2) had an answer for each Bulldogs basket down the stretch, but Southeast Raleigh had a chance after a jumper by Tamia Davis cut the lead to two points with 12 seconds left.
The Vikings wisely didn’t pick up the ball for the inbounds pass right away, and some more seconds ticked off the clock before they called a timeout. In high school, the clock does not stop on made baskets. Officials don’t start counting for a five seconds call until the ball is picked up.
With 4.0 seconds left, Northwest Guilford couldn’t handle the inbounds pass, giving the ball back to Southeast Raleigh for a chance to send the game into overtime with 3.0 seconds left.
Southeast got the ball to East Carolina recruit Tamia Hicks, who calmly took two dribbles and tossed up a runner that was in time but just short.
“It would have meant a lot for me for us to come out with a ‘W,’ but I’m still happy and proud of what we did do this season,” Hicks said. “It didn’t turn out the way we wanted it, but I’m still happy we did what we did. I wish we would’ve finished.”
Southeast Raleigh’s strongest run came when it closed the first half on a 13-1 run to lead 21-16 at halftime.
Eight of those points came in quick succession after Northwest Guilford sophomore center Elizabeth Kitley – who stands 6-4s – picked up her third foul with 1 minute, 45 seconds to go until halftime. With Northwest Guilford’s rim protector out of the way, Southeast Raleigh got whatever shots it wanted.
The two teams were tied at 25-all going into the fourth quarter as Kitley went the full period without picking up a fourth foul. In the third quarter, only one foul was called total (Northwest Guilford 1, Southeast Raleigh 0).
Kitley (15 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks) was the overall MVP, and Cayla King (16 points, 11-of-12 from free-throw line) was the Vikings’ Most Outstanding Player.
“I think we kind of strayed away from the game plan. We did not attack like we did in the second quarter,” Meyers said. “We weren’t able to get them into foul trouble. For some reason we decided to be more passive than we’re asked to be.”
Southeast’s Most Outstanding Player award went to Hicks, who had 13 points. Junior Jada McMillian added 12 points.
“I feel like we worked hard, we just didn’t have that much energy at the end of the game,” McMillian said. “We’ll try to come back next year and win it.”