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A 61-47 win for the Beddingfield varsity girls basketball team before a home crowd on Wednesday night in the semifinals of the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference tournament marked a three-game sweep of SouthWest Edgecombe by the program this season.
But the victory was much more than that.
The Lady Bruins (16-6, 7-3) were playing in honor of assistant coach Leslie Pate, an English teacher at Beddingfield and beloved member of the program whose husband died unexpectedly on Tuesday. The win over the Lady Cougars (16-8, 5-5) was dedicated to her.
“We wanted to play tonight for her because she wasn’t with us, she was with her family. She’s very special to us, she does a lot of stuff for us, not only as a coach, but she’s a tremendous teacher,” Beddingfield head coach Debra Pegram said. “She just such an advocate for students. She was very missed tonight, so we just wanted to make sure we owed tribute to her.”
From a player’s perspective, senior center Makayla Everette said the team was motivated to honor Pate by giving its full effort, like Pate does on the sidelines.
“She gives her all at practice, games, so we wanted to pay it back and win tonight,” said Everette, who led all scorers with 25 points and dominated in the paint.
Daneesha Briggs added 20 to the final total as the pair combined for a majority of the points, and just two shy of matching the entire SouthWest roster. Beddingfield junior forward Di’ziya Thompson proved a third threatening option to the visitors, contributing 11 points.
In key moments, Beddingfield kept the Lady Cougars at arm’s length to earn a matchup with Farmville Central on Friday night, pending weather. Due to schedule changes, the time for that game has not been set yet.
Beddingfield came out strong, but ended the first quarter up by one after SouthWest scored seven of the last 10 points in the quarter. By halftime, though, the Lady Bruins had found more success at staying ahead, due in part to a pair of 3-pointers from Briggs, and entered halftime up nine points.
A 5-0 run to start the second half brought the Lady Cougars back into the game, down just four points, but it wasn’t long before Beddingfield lengthened back out to more than 10.
This was a frustrating cycle for SouthWest and head coach Sandra Langley that ultimately upended the program from even nearing a revenge victory.
“We cut it several times,” Langley said. “But I think at the end we just ran out of gas. Yeah, we cut it a couple times, but basically (Everette), we weren’t able to stop her. I think we let the perimeter shooters hurt us tonight.”
In the fourth quarter, SouthWest came within seven points at the start of the quarter before Beddingfield closed it out.
SouthWest freshman guard Jer’lisah Pridgen scored a team-high 16 points, including 10 in the second half, but it was not enough to turn the tides late, even with 14 added by Kenasja Dunn.
The victory left Pegram pleased with her team’s effort, staying ahead of the Lady Cougars in all three matchups.
“It’s very dangerous playing a team, especially of SouthWest’s caliber, three times,” Pegram said. “And to beat them three times, I’m very proud of my girls. I thought everyone I put in, whether it was the starters or the backups, they played extremely well. I’m just very proud that everybody is buying into their roles and getting the job done.”
Pegram hopes her team can continue to build on the team win for the upcoming North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-A playoffs. On the losing end, the Lady Cougars will regroup with the expectation they’ll be included in the playoff bracket. With what lies ahead, being able to play an unfamiliar opponent from now on would be a plus for the program.
“We’re starting all over again with a new season next week,” Langley said. “I feel like we’ll still make the playoffs, but maybe we’ll play some teams that don’t know so much about us.”
SW EDGECOMBE (47)
McKinney 6, Smallwood 2, Battle 4, Pridgen 16, Dunn 14, Davis 3, Thigpen 2.
Everette 25, Briggs 20, Sherrod 2, Anderson 3, Thompson 11.
Score by quarters:
SW Edgecombe 14 11 12 10 — 47
Beddingfield 15 19 14 13 — 61