Western Harnett’s girls basketball team advanced to the championship game of the Harnett County Tipoff Tournament for the first team in many years with a 43-29 win over Triton in the first round of the tournament at Harnett Central on Monday.
“We’ve got good leadership this year,” said first-year Western Harnett coach Matthew Smith. “The girls have worked hard all summer. They’ve come in and really put in the work. They’ve decided that they were tired of being overlooked. They came out with a mission and hopefully will continue doing this. I think last year, going to the state playoffs, sort of gave them a taste. Now they’re wanting more. We have a long, long way to go, but hopefully with work, we’ll continue to get there.”
Triton coach Wendy Simmons, also in her first year as head coach, cited turnovers as a major factor in the loss.
“Thirty-four turnovers,” Simmons said. “If we cut that just in half, maybe we could have capitalized on more possessions. It felt like we turned it over every possession we had for a while. That was a little frustrating. And we just did things we haven’t been practicing on. We didn’t execute our offense like we needed to and communicated on defense. Just growing pains. Things we’re going to work on.”
Lahaina “LaLa” Bell started her senior season for the Eagles (1-0) by leading all scorers with 33 points.
Taija Pruitt had six points, Makyia Mackey had three points and Javona Farrington had one point for Western.
“We want to work inside-out,” Smith said. “We took some shots at times that, what little hair I have on my head I wanted to pull out. But I want us to continue to try to work inside-out. I always tell them that if you go inside, the outside will eventually open.”
Senior Anaya Lockamy recorded a double-double to lead the Hawks, with 12 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.
Anastasia McDonald had eight points, five rebounds and four steals. Hannah Jackson had five points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Kaila Cooney had two points and 10 rebounds. Alexis Howard had two points. Zoie Starling had three steals.
Lockamy opened the game with a basket on the first possession to give Triton its only lead of the game.
Bell responded with a three that started an 18-6 run through the remainder of the first quarter. The Eagles led the rest of the way.
Triton rallied with an 11-4 run through the second quarter to cut the lead to 22-19 at the half, but the Eagles answered with a 10-2 run through the third quarter and outscored the Hawks 11-8 in the fourth.
Triton will meet Harnett Central in the girls consolation game at Harnett Central tonight (Tuesday, Nov. 20) at 6 p.m.
Western Harnett plays defending champion Overhills in the girls championship at Campbell on Monday at 6:45 p.m.