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Pinecrest Academy girls defeat Mount Pisgah in region showdown
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Pinecrest Academy battles with Mount Pisgah's Jira Smith for a rebound Friday. - photo by Brian Paglia

Pinecrest Academy girls’ basketball coach Ken Lacy stood in the hallway outside the team’s locker room after the Lady Paladins’ 49-43 victory over Mount Pisgah on Friday. It offered a quiet respite from the cacophony of the start of the boys’ game.

Until assistant coach David Boaz opened the locker room door. Out came a blast of sound, a concoction of shrieks and fists pounding on metal lockers.

It was jubilation, for Pinecrest (12-6, 5-2) endured a sluggish, turnover-plagued first quarter and a 13-point second quarter deficit to a team it hadn’t defeated since Feb. 14, 2011.

Yet the Paladins chipped away, using intense man-to-man defense to flummox Mount Pisgah and getting 22 points from senior Maggie Heard.

“That team is always in our head so much,” Lacy said. “I don’t really understand, but I guess there’s a lot of history between the schools. It’s kind of a big rivalry. … Yeah, it was a nice comeback.”

The history, indeed, hadn’t been good for Pinecrest entering Friday’s game. The Lady Paladins had lost four straight to the Lady Patriots since 2011, including a 39-27 defeat this season in which they started slow and never recovered.

So when Pinecrest fell behind 18-5 after the first quarter with more turnovers (eight) than points, déjà vu set in, right?

Not exactly.

“I know they’ve grown up,” Lacy said.

Heard was the catalyst. It started so harmlessly at first, just a pair of free throws to begin the second quarter. But then it was another free throw with 3:08 left in the half. Then two more with 1:46 left. Then a driving layup off a turnover. Then two more free throws with 18.3 seconds left.

Suddenly, Pinecrest trailed just 24-22 at halftime.

“We’ve got some depth,” Lacy said. “Pisgah doesn’t have a lot of depth. I felt if we just kept the pedal to the metal that we’d probably catch back up.”

Indeed, Bailey Evans hit a mid-range jumper to give Pinecrest its first lead at 27-26 in the third quarter. Mount Pisgah tied it back up twice, but Heard found Tessa Stubbs in transition for a 3 to give the Lady Paladins the lead early in the fourth quarter.

Heard finished it off herself. Again and again, the senior cut to a soft spot in the paint in Mount Pisgah’s zone defense. Again and again, Pinecrest passed it to her, and she took the opportunity to drive to the basket to draw a foul. It worked on three straight possessions in the fourth quarter as Pinecrest slowly pulled away.

The game felt over when Heard stripped the ball from a Mount Pisgah ball handler and took it the length of the court for a fastbreak layup to push Pinecrest’s lead to 45-35.

“I’m not great at layups,” Heard said, “so I was a little nervous, but I’m glad I made it.”

It gave Heard seven straight points and Pinecrest a measure of revenge against Pisgah.

“One of our seniors,” Lacy added. “She’s scrappy. Always has been.”

Pinecrest Academy 49, Mount Pisgah 43

Pisgah             18        6         8         8_43

Pinecrest          5         17        13        14_49

Pisgah: Peterson 14, Moore 10, Smith 10, Brown 4, Williamson 2.

Pinecrest: Heard 22, M. Metz 7, R. Metz 6, Evans 6, Oshinski 5, Stubbs 3.