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Such was head coach Bruce Wall’s description of his Greenfield School varsity girls basketball team’s 45-34 triumph against Lawrence Academy of the Tarheel Independents Conference in the second round of the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A playoffs Thursday night in the Greenfield School gym.
Maybe the oatmeal cakes deserve a huge amount of credit, but the Lady Knights, buoyed by a 16-0 first-quarter performance, advanced into the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year and won twice in the state playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Greenfield, No.2 from the Coastal Plain Independents Conference and the No. 7 state seed, will also be at home for the quarterfinals at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against Trinity Christian. NCISAA probation prohibits Trinity, the No. 2 seed, from playing home playoff games.
“Huge, huge, huge!” Wall clamored. “Another step today. We are excited to be where we are and want to continue to get better.”
Greenfield boosted its record to 16-7, while unseeded Lawrence, minus senior leading scorer Lauren Baker (ACL injury three weeks ago) and her 15 points per game, exited with a 15-11 record.
The players attributed their splendid start to the fact all of them consumed an oatmeal cake before the game. After Tuesday’s opening-round win, junior Kaelyn Wall, the coach’s daughter, credited an oatmeal cake after a performance of a career-high 32 points.
Wall backed up that outing with a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds. She fired in 14 points in the opening quarter.
“We’ve never been down 16-0,” noted Lady Warriors head coach Lee Hoffman. “We have not been a good first-quarter team but, usually, if we are down maybe 10-4, it’s right where we want to be.
“We are an experienced team (four seniors started) and we have played all these games. I don’t know whether it was nerves or we got rattled for some reason. That surprised me. We put ourselves in a hole and couldn’t battle out of it.”
But Lawrence finally scored in the opening minute of the second quarter and fought its way back into contention when the Lady Knights struggled to get the basketball to Wall, who took only one shot in the second quarter. Behind the 3-point bombing of junior Hailey Gardner, Lawrence closed the deficit to 18-13 at halftime. Greenfield’s only two points came from senior Sumer Hassan.
After Wall outscored the Lady Warriors the first half, Hoffman revamped the Lawrence defense to see if Greenfield eighth’ grader Jeallen Holland “could light it up” in the second half.
After missing her first seven shots, Holland drilled in nine third-quarter points. The Lady Knights took command with an 8-0 start to the second half.
“Jaellen hit three straight shots that we needed,” Wall said.
“We got lackadaisical (after the first quarter); we thought we had the game won and gave them hope. At halftime, I was very upset at the effort. I told them to give me some leaders and talk about it — and not to come out until they were ready to play ball. I shut the door and walked out.”
Holland assured she was affected by her coach’s reaction.
“I was a little bit frustrated,” she added. “I had to get into my shot, keep shooting and not give up. I had to keep shooting and hope it would come back in. I thought, if I kept shooting, it would come back.”
Expressed Hoffman: “We did a great job on (Wall) after the first quarter. We weren’t even defending (Holland) and we wanted to see if she could light it up in the second half. She lit it up.”
Seventh-grader Serenity McNair and junior Carolina Stone also supplied points. Lawrence attempted to stay close behind the free-throw shooting of senior Rebekah Goodwin and Gardner.
Allthough Greenfield went without a field goal the first six minutes of the last quarter, the Lady Warriors could do no better than cut the deficit to eight points on three occasions.
McNair, a fourth-quarter spark, wound up with 12 points and Holland bucketed nine. Hassan grabbed seven rebounds.
Accurate on five 3-point shots, Gardner poured in 16 points for Lawrence.
“Very disappointing,” Hoffman acknowledged. “We thought we had a really good chance of winning.”
But a first quarter of no points, 11 missed shots and nine turnovers crippled the Lady Warriors.
Greenfield plays on.
“Crazy!” exclaimed Holland. “We get to play another home game, which is really, really, really fun.”
La. Smith 2, Cobb 3, Gardner 16, Goodwin 9, Li. Smith 9, Dale 5, Phelps, Clayton, Tromell.
McNair 12, Stone 2, Wall 20, Holland 9, Hassan 2, Godwin.
Score by quarters:
Lawrence 0 13 9 12 — 34
Greenfield 16 2 18 9 — 45