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Lady Lions grind out tourney win over Lunenburg

The Halifax County Middle School girl’s basketball team didn’t give coaches James Smith and David Graham the type of performance they were looking for, but in the end the Lady Lions got the win they needed to advance to the semifinals of the Southside Middle School Conference Tournament Wednesday with a 36-19 victory over the Lunenburg Middle School Blue Devils.

Halifax County plays Bluestone Middle School tonight at 6 p.m. in the tournament semifinals in Nottoway, Bluestone having knocked off the West one seed Nottoway 26-25 in the quarterfinal round.

Eight players scored for the Lions against Lunenburg, with Ghanija Gooden, Alasha Edmondson and Shadajah Davis leading the way with eight, six and six points, respectively.

Timonee McCargo finished with five points, A’Kiya Guill four points, Brittany Clark three points and Fanliyah Ballou and Mecca Carter two points apiece.

TaJaNeka Freeman led Lunenburg with five points, while Brianne Johnson, Ashley Ellis and Mary Agnes Dalton each had three points.

Despite the margin of victory, the Lions didn’t play as well overall as it did in its last game, a non-conference win over Westwood, according to Smith, who added the team needed to step it up a notch in terms of execution moving forward.

“The last game we played defense and we passed the ball really well,” said Smith.

“Tonight we didn’t pass, played halfway defense and didn’t finish.

“We missed a lot of layups tonight, and I guess we figured we were playing a weak team and didn’t have to get fired up for it.”

Five players scored, and the Lions’ pressure defense bottled up Lunenburg in the early going, as Halifax bolted to a 13-3 lead after one quarter, but Lunenburg stayed close in the second quarter by going six-for-seven at the foul line.

That allowed the Blue Devils to get as close as 16-9, but a late basket by Edmondson gave the Lions an 18-9 lead at intermission.

Halifax began to pull away in the third quarter, scoring 11 points while holding Lunenburg to only one field goal, with Gooden and Davis each hitting two baskets and McCargo one to help the Lions to a 29-11 lead with a quarter remaining.

The Lions cruised home from there, with Clark scoring three points and Carter and Gooden adding two apiece in the final period.

Free throw shooting woes, a thorn in the Lions’ side all season, continued against Lunenburg, with Halifax going 4-15 at the line, compared to 11-22 for the Blue Devils.

Smith is looking for a better performance from his team as the conference tournament moves to Nottoway.

“Things will get a little tougher the next ball game.   Basketball is like this sometimes, and I’m glad to get the win,” Smith noted.

“We just didn’t play well, but we played well enough.  We played fairly decent defense, and that’s what kept us in the game.

“But, defense wins games.  I’m hoping we got the bad game out of the way tonight and play really well Friday.”