For the second year in a row Southeast Raleigh came up short in the NCHSAA 4A girls’ state championship game to Charlotte’s Myers Park.
But this year’s 52-47 loss at the Smith Center was a lot easier to take for Bulldogs’ coach, Nicole Meyers.
“I can rest easier after this,” said Meyers, whose team’s second-half rally came up just short. “We fought hard and the girls showed what they are made of. I’m not happy with the outcome, but very proud of the effort.”
Myers Park ended the season 29-1, while Southeast finished 26-4.
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Last year, Southeast fell behind early and was out of the game by halftime. By game’s end, the Mustangs had outrebounded the Bulldogs by 30. It was a performance Meyers and her girls wanted to erase.
Saturday’s opening wasn’t what Meyers was looking for either. Her team failed to score a basket in the first quarter and trailed 12-2 at the end of the opening period. The two points came on a 2 for six showing at the free throw line.
By halftime, the Mustangs lead was 25-14.
“We got good shots early, but couldn’t capitalize,” Meyers said. “But what did go good for us was they were in some foul trouble.”
D.D. Rogers, who was the game’s Kay Yow MVP award winner, had 3 fouls and just 2 of her eventual 15 points at halftime. She also finished with 7 rebounds.
Then, Southeast MVP Amber Richardson, who scored 21 in the loss, opened the second half with a pair of 3-pointers, cutting the lead to 25-20.
“Southeast was very tough tonight,” Meyers Park coach Barbara Nelson said. “We got a good lead on them early, but they didn’t quit. In the third quarter we were sitting Rogers, Richardson hit a couple of big 3’s for them, our zone broke down. We cracked, but didn’t crumble.”
In the second half, Meyers Park was able to get the ball inside to Rogers more and she kept her team ahead. Southeast was within 4 points late a few times, but could get no closer.
“The stat that stands out to me is the 17 of 29 free throws,” coach Myers said. “That’s 12 misses in a 4-point loss.”
Richardson and Rogers will be freshmen teammates at N.C. State next year. Aliyah Mazyck, who will play at Southern California next year, scored 12 and had 6 rebounds for the winners. She was also named the Myers Park MVP in the game.
Senior Jade Phillips, a Syracuse recruit, turned in an all-round game of 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 steals for the Bulldogs.
“Like coach said, the missed free throws were big,” Phillips said. “That killed us.”
Meyers added, “Our players have put in a lot of time and effort to get here. And Jade and and Amber have had quite an impact as high school players and they’ll have an impact as college players, too.”