In the opening game of the 24th annual girls Catawba Valley Classic, the fourth-seeded Lady Tigers used aggressive defense and fast-paced offense to advance with a 55-50 win over fifth-seeded Alexander Central.
Fred T. Foard out-rebounded Alexander Central 38-34 and finished the game with 10 blocked shots as a team.
"This was a big win for us, especially considering they beat us by nine points a few weeks ago," said Tigers head coach Wendy Price. "Our intensity was better this time around, and we shot the ball better. We did a lot better defensively this time around."
The Lady Tigers built an early 10-4 lead in the opening quarter, but the Lady Cougars went on a 12-6 run, which was capped off by a Maty Setzer 3-pointer to tie the game at 16-16 at the end of the first quarter. However, Foard regained the momentum behind a pair of Chelsea Turner 3-pointers in the opening mintues of the second quarter.
Drew Worrells also added a 3-pointer for Foard in the second quarter to help push the Lady Tigers' lead to nine with two minutes left before halftime. The Lady Cougars' offense went quiet in the second quarter only scoring six points to give Foard a 29-22 halftime lead.
"I told our girls we needed to be patient and move the ball around so we could get the best shot," Price said. "But we always give our shooters the green light on the 3-pointer's because we have some good shooters on this team."
However, Alexander Central couldn't be counted out yet, as the Lady Cougars came out in the second half with their own fast-paced offense and aggressive defensive play. Alexander Central held Foard to six points in the third quarter and pressured the Lady Tigers into eight turnovers.
Marie Ritchie led the comeback, scoring six points in the third quarter to cut Foard's lead to two, 35-33, heading into the fourth quarter. The Lady Cougars kept the momentum in the fourth, going on an early 7-2 run to give them their first lead of the game, 40-37.
The Lady Tigers mounted a rally of their own in the form of an 18-8 run to hold off Alexander Central and hang on for the win.
"We played hard and our second unit really brought some energy into the game off the bench for us," said Alexander Central head coach Matt Taylor. "That kept us in the game as we went along, so I'm really proud of them."
Brown expected Foard to change from a zone-oriented defense to a man-to-man type for this game because two of his players, Setzer and Ritchie, combined to score 42 points against them in the previous meeting.
"The big difference tonight was they were able to limit Maty's shots," he said. "That pressure took her out of the game, and we sort of showed our youth down the stretch."
Turner led all scorers with 18 and Brooke Robinson also added 15 points for Foard in the win. For Alexander Central, Ritchie finished with a team-high 17 points, while Setzer and Sara Kate Ferguson each had seven points in the loss.