February 29, 2008


Lady Canes One Step Closer to State Title ...With Slideshow

By JORDAN TOMBERLIN

The bleachers were full, the fans were loud, and the Lady Hurricanes were all business Wednesday night as Cape Hatteras took on Southeast Halifax in the second round of the NCHSAA state playoffs. 

The Hurricanes won the tip-off and held the lead the entire game, but make no mistake, this was not a repeat of Monday night’s blowout of Mattamuskeet. The Lady Canes worked hard for their 54-40 victory over Southeast Halifax. It was anyone’s game from start to finish. 

Starters Paxton Gwin and Kristian Head scarcely left the floor, and the team ran a full-court press throughout the game—something they haven’t had to do all year. 

But when the competition got tough, the Lady Canes got tougher. Playing almost impenetrable defense, the Canes forced Halifax turnover after turnover and banked several easy lay-ups off steals.  On the offensive end, senior Jessica Bierlein played an impressive, controlled inside game, while Gwin, Head, and Lauren Randall sunk several outside baskets. 

Toward the end of the second half, though, it seemed the pace of the game was starting to get to the Lady Hurricanes. Their shots weren’t falling, and they were having a little trouble keeping their composure under Halifax pressure. 

But they pulled it out, continuing to play strong defense and executing solid teamwork, and they advanced to the next round of playoffs, where they will face rivals Manteo. 

This is the farthest the girls team has gone in the playoffs in recent years—maybe ever—and they are also the first team to ever have had back-to-back undefeated conference seasons and conference championship titles. 

They dominated their conference—winning almost every game by a large margin, even in the tournament.  In fact, one of the only close games they played, as well as one of their few losses, was Manteo.

So how do you beat this team?  

Coaches Earl Fountain and Kelly Forsythe agreed that the team’s greatest weakness is their struggle to keep their composure under pressure, something they demonstrated Wednesday against Southeast Halifax. 

Fortunately, that weakness can be largely attributed to how young this team is—there are only two seniors and a handful of juniors. 

They’re also not the biggest team. 

“We’ve got height, but we’re skinny. We don’t have any big bodies,” says assistant coach Kelly Forsythe. 

But really, what this team lacks in experience and size, they more than make up in quickness and aggressiveness. Defense is perhaps their greatest strength, and they can likely beat any team with their transition game—easy lay-ups scored off turnovers and steals. 

Another thing that makes this team so special is the teamwork. Many of these girls have been playing together since they were 5, 6, or 7 years old, and it shows. The way they see the floor is almost unnatural. 

“This is one of the only teams I’ve coached where there’s no jealousy amongst the girls,” says Coach Earl Fountain, who has coached the Cape Hatteras girls’ teams for six years and coached the boys for many years before that.  “They just want to win.”

They will get their chance on Friday night when they face their rivals, Manteo, at home. 

These two teams have met once this season, and Manteo handed Hatteras one of its three losses for the year. 

“We led the whole game and then lost it at the end, on foul shots,” says Fountain. “I know we can beat them.” 

The girls couldn’t be more excited. 

“We’re ready,” says sophomore guard Paxton Gwin.  

Whatever the outcome, one thing is for sure— this will be one intense and exciting game.
 

(Editor’s note:  The slide show with this article is from the playoff game against Mattamuskeet on Monday night, Feb. 25.)
CLICK HERE TO VIEW SLIDESHOW


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