Tensions were high and emotions were rolling on Tuesday night, April 13, when the Greenbrier East Lady Spartans hosted the Princeton Tigers in the first round of sectional tournament play.
The Spartans (14-5) trailed by 10 with six minutes left in the third quarter, but East outscored Princeton 34-16 from that point forward and held the Tigers to just six points in the decisive final period, winning the game 51-43.
East went ahead early in the contest 7-2 thanks in part to Cadence Stewart and Layla Pence, but the Tigers would score the next six points of the quarter and they held an 8-7 lead after one.
With Princeton (8-5) ahead 15-12 midway through the second quarter, East’s Brooke Davis drilled a 3-pointer to knot the contest at 15-all, but just like the end of the opening period, Princeton scored six consecutive points again and led 21-15 at halftime.
And Princeton kept that momentum going in the early stages of the second half.
Kailey Sarver found Laken Dye for a wide-open layup and then Dye scored another bucket in close on the next possession. Dye would then act as the facilitator and hit Lauren Parrish with a crisp pass that Parrish would put in the hoop, and the Tigers took a commanding 27-17 lead with six minutes to go in the third quarter.
Then, the light switched for East.
Pence hit a short jumper and Stewart followed suit with a trey that brought the Spartans within five at 27-22. Davis then hit a long three and Allie Dunford added a long two. Princeton weathered the storm at that time though and led 37-32 heading to the fourth and final period.
With East down seven with 6:30 to go, Stewart hit another deep trifecta and Davis scored on a driving layup. A couple of possessions later, East took the momentum for good when Josie Patterson and Dunford executed a give-and-go to perfection when Patterson found her cutting teammate for an easy bucket. The next time down the floor, Davis gave East the lead for good with a left-wing three and a 44-43 Spartan advantage.
Stewart then hit a three, Davis blocked two 3-point attempts and East hit some critical free throws all sandwiched around a mini scrum that resulted in double technicals, and the Spartans celebrated their huge win.
Both teams exceeded 30 turnovers, but East’s ability to come up with the big plays was the difference. The Spartans shot just 31%. Strangely enough, so did the Tigers.
Stewart led the Spartans with 19 points. The freshman Pence had 12 points, 11 rebounds and four steals. Davis added 12 points, 10 rebounds and five steals. She also had 11 turnovers, which she will need to clean up, but her motor runs so high that sometimes that is going to happen.
Princeton was led by Dye’s 14 points.
The Spartans will take on the Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles in Beckley this Thursday, April 15.
Stats courtesy of Oldies, 93.3