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SMITHFIELD — With the game on the line, Beddingfield girls basketball 6-foot-4 center Makayla Everette scored all 15 points for the Bruins in the fourth quarter to push the team past host Smithfield-Selma in a 44-42 nonconference scare Monday night.
The work of the North Carolina A&T State University commit in the final minutes of play put her team up by 10 points as the game clock ran down, which turned out to not be enough for comfort, but helped Beddingfield (8-4) of the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference survive a late comeback by the 3-A Greater Neuse River Conference Spartans (7-6). After the game, Everette said she was motivated to take over because she knew how crucial those minutes were.
“Just to get back and win because they came out stronger than they did in the first half, so we knew they were going to come out strong” Everette said.
Everette brought down a team-high 14 rebounds and scored 24 points, her last bringing her team to a 44-34 lead. No other Beddingfield player reached double digits, although Aa’Niyah Sherrod and Daneesha Briggs added seven each as the next-highest scorers.
Beddingfield head coach Debra Pegram said that run exemplified her team’s offense at its best, when it’s run out of the imposing senior’s hands.
“We did a better job of looking for her tonight in transition and also a half-court set,” Pegram said. “When you have a girl of her capabilities, you need to let her get some touches if at all possible. So I thought my guards did a good job of making a conscious effort of looking for her, and it helped. She’s just a tremendous talent when she gets that low underneath. She knows how to use her body, she knows how to use left, right, her footwork is great. She can wreak havoc when she gets low and she did a good job of that.”
The offensive flurry that eventually narrowly won the game was over, though, at that point. From there, the SSS defense clamped down in the paint, while Lady Spartans’ Khaliyah Peacock led a furious barrage of shots on the other end of the court. Smithfield-Selma cut the lead to five, then as close as a basket from tying the game on a long 3-pointer from Peacock with nine seconds left.
“It was amazing,” said Peacock, who scored 15 points in the loss, of the run. “We came back from 10, actually, and we had pretty good teamwork and all that.”
Though the offense was what brought it back from the brink, SSS head coach Dedrick Payton said his team was able to rally due to defense, which limited the shots for Everette in the paint.
“We had to go back to the press, something that we really couldn’t do today with three injured and out,” Payton explained. “No excuses, though, they played a great game. We just had to go try and play our game at one point and get back in it.”
The hard-fought comeback turned out to be all for nothing, though, as the Lady Spartans could not muster a good shot as time expired. After playing well enough to nearly run away with it early in the final quarter, Beddingfield escaped with a narrow victory in the end to halt what had been a three-game skid since the Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament in late December. Playing a team that was never out of the game tested the Lady Bruins, and they came out of it better prepared for what looks to be a grueling Eastern Plains slate ahead.
“Smithfield never gives up. They hit some great shots, we would miss a defensive assignment and they would hit a 3,” Pegram said. “We would cough up the ball at the most inopportune time and it would make it a game. They fight hard. They’re just a good team. I really respect how they play so hard.”
Beddingfield plays at North Johnston as EPC play resumes Wednesday.
Briggs 7, Dove 3, Everette 24, Pender 12, Sherrod 7, Best 2.
Thaggard 11, McQueen 4, Robertson 8, Forte 4, Peacock 15.
Score by quarters:
Beddingfield 10 10 9 15 — 44
SSS 3 15 6 18 — 42