Green Hope refused to wilt in its first-place girls basketball game on Friday night at Holly Springs.
After a flurry of lead changes in the final minutes, Green Hope watched three game-tying shots by the Golden Hawks misfired in the final 32.5 seconds. The Falcons, which had led almost the entire game, withstood the final push by Holly Springs to secure a 54-51 road victory.
The two girls basketball teams are now tied for the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference’s top spot.
“We played hard and we didn’t lose our composure,” Green Hope coach Mike Robinson said.
Green Hope (14-3, 8-1) led 25-21 at halftime, but Holly Springs (11-3, 8-1) took its first lead – 42-41 – with 5:16 to go, and the two traded leads the rest of the way.
The dagger came when Green Hope’s Rachel Argabright hit a 3-pointer with 2:35 left to take a 51-47 lead.
Making a difference
Green Hope’s help defense, which also played well in the teams’ first meeting, a 35-33 loss, kept the quick Golden Hawks players out of the lane most of the night.
“We played a sagging man(-to-man). We just didn’t want them driving,” Robinson said. “It almost backfired on us in the second half when they fired some 3s and they made some, but I thought we did a great job of boxing out and rebounding.”
Holly Springs, meanwhile, lamented 15 missed free throws that loomed large.
“It killed us,” Hawks coach Peace Easton said. “This nothing but motivates us. We showed we could battle with anybody the last part of the game, we’ve just got to do it for the entire game.”
Three to know
Kelly Fitzgerald, Green Hope: The junior point guard had 17 points and eight assists.
“Right now we’re seeing the floor very well and we’re able to back-cut and get wide open layups, which makes the game easier for us,” said Fitzgerald.
Nia Washington, Green Hope: Fourteen of her 22 points came in the first half as the freshman added seven rebounds and four steals.
Samantha Weaver, Holly Springs: The sophomore was the first Hawks player to attack the basket with consistency, scoring 17 points.
Holly Springs’ Kiana Carter and Nya Jordan made an impact off the bench. Carter was a spark, getting four points and three steals. Jordan hit two 3s to take the lead at different times.
Out of bounds
There was some dispute about a long basket made by Holly Springs’ Brianna Tate just before halftime. Holly Springs coaches had thought it was a 3, but the referees ruled it a 2.
“(The ref’s) argument was she had a better angle,” Easton said.