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The middle stages of Tuesday’s game did not paint a pretty picture for the Fike High varsity girls basketball team.
However, the beginning and ending stages were more reflective of a team that has now tasted victory in six of seven games.
After a 14-3 start and denying Erwin Triton a field goal for the first 8 minutes, 10 seconds of play, the Lady Golden Demons saw their lead whittle to as little as four before a decisive 20-2 run allowed Fike to pull away for a comfortable 68-53 victory.
Fike of the 3-A Big East Conference placed three scorers in double figures, led by the 21 points and six assists of senior guard Jada Lee. Junior Jah’Asia Pernell had 14 points as senior Aniya Thigpen, celebrating her 18th birthday, finished with 11. Key in the clinching fourth-quarter run was Pernell’s stick-back of a missed free throw and a pair of 3-pointers from Lee. The Lady Demons, who made eight 3-pointers, had five of those from Lee. Thigpen had the other three.
“We had a real good first and a real good fourth quarter,” Fike head coach Jeff Nelson said. “And I like to start good and finish good. But we’ve got to get that middle, like tonight, we can’t have that middle. Because that team started to get a little more on the boards and it was like they wanted it more than us.”
Fike dominated the boards at both ends in the first half, outrebounding the 3-A Tri-County Conference Hawks (1-6) 28-11 in that span. Triton struggled to make shots initially and stagnated against Fike’s zone defense as the Lady Demons went into halftime with a 30-18 cushion. For the game, Fike connected on 27 of 74 shots for 36.5-percent accuracy as Triton was held to just 17 of 60 for a 28.3-percent clip.
But in the second half, Triton, behind senior Allure Smith, battled back in the rebounding department. Smith pulled down 16 rebounds and connected on three consecutive second-chance baskets to trim a 39-26 Fike lead down to 39-33. An Alexis Howard free throw made it 41-37 Lady Demons early in the fourth quarter, but Pernell crashed the glass off a missed free throw to start the pivotal 20-2 surge for Fike.
“We let them come back,” Pernell said. “But we know as a team, we’re better than that. We showed it when we took the lead and took it further than where we had it.”
Smith had a double-double of 21 points and 16 rebounds to pace the Lady Hawks.
Fike outrebounded Triton 41-29 as junior Nevaeh Barbee and senior Mason Blake led with 10 and nine rebounds, respectively. Fike, which remains home to face SouthWest Edgecombe on Wednesday night, picked up two blocked shots from Blake.
Elliott, Starling 1, McDonald 7, Howard 12, Smith 22, McNeill, Jackson, Brewer 11.
Graham 3, Holley 2, Lee 21, Williams 2, Barbee 2, Kent 2, Pernell 14, Sage 5, Thigpen 11, Blake 4, Ebron 2.
Score by quarters: