WYE MILLS — It could have been a number of factors, including the fact they had not played together other than with their teammates.
Whatever the reason, the North all-stars shook off a sluggish first quarter Tuesday night, took control in the second and steadily padded its lead after intermission on the way to a 53-32 victory over the South in the 37th annual Bayside Conference Cliff Mister Senior All-Star girls’ basketball game at Chesapeake College.
“I think at the beginning they got a little nervous; little bit of jitters with all the people here and stuff,” said North head coach Lesley Staehli of Easton. “And adjusting to the backboards and rims and stuff; it’s a little different for them. After that they started having fun together and they clicked really well.”
Other than Kent Island’s Alivia Hanesworth and Allison Corbin, who played the Bayside Conference championship on a big court at the Wicomico County Civic Center, and last Saturday played in the Class 2A state championship at the University of Maryland’s Xfinity Center, most of the players from both teams had not played on a collegiate court this season.
But after falling behind 10-6 after one quarter, and 11-6 early in the second period, the North reeled off eight straight points. Hanesworth (game-high 12 points) and Colonel Richardson’s Eliana Wilinski scored on consecutive put-backs. Easton’s Ty Moody (seven points) then converted a steal into a layup for a 12-11 North lead. Cambridge-South Dorchester’s Krystiana Gibbs (seven points) scored to cap the run and give the North a 14-11 lead with 7:35 left before halftime.
The South reclaimed the lead at 16-14 as Snow Hill’s Amiya Brunson (nine points) hit a free throw and scored inside before Parkside’s Myaja Bynum made a layup.
But the North responded with a 9-2 run to close the second quarter. Gibbs hit a free throw. Colonel Richardson’s Sharese Thompson (11 points) scored off a Corbin assist then scored on a follow for a 19-16 North lead. A bank shot from Pocomoke’s Alyna Jones got the South within 19-18. But Corbin scored off a Moody assist then a Thompson feed, giving the North a 23-18 halftime lead.
The North, which outscored the South 17-8 in the second quarter, held the South to single-digit scoring in each of the final three quarters.
Cambridge-SD’s Donasty Cephas scored a layup to start the third period for 25-18 North lead. Wicomico’s Cordell Carmean made one of two free throws before Hanesworth, selected the North Bayside Player of the Year, drilled the first of her two 3-pointers, then dished to Thompson for a layup and a 30-19 cushion. Thompson’s two free throws moments later capped another 9-2 North run.
Back-to-back buckets by Mardela’s Zoe Price (team-high 10 points) pulled the South within nine with 3:27 left in the third. But a Moody drive and two straight baskets from Gibbs helped the North take a 38-25 lead into the fourth quarter.
The North continued to widen its lead in the fourth behind Hanesworth and Corbin, who helped lead Kent Island to a 25-1 record and the school’s first state final appearance the season. Corbin (seven points) hit a 3-pointer 39 seconds into the final quarter. After a 3 from Snow Hill’s Mariah Murray Snow, Hanesworth packaged a jumper, a 3-pointer, and a fastbreak layup in a 2-minute window for a 48-28 lead with 5:17 remaining.
“You got a bunch of first-team and second-team (all North Division players) put together, they look like all-stars out there,” Staehli said. “Phenomenal experience, especially with the players that we had. Like it was such a pleasure playing with all these girls. You know facing them during the regular season and then getting to play with them. Great feeling.”
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