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Lady Bulldogs end season in playoffs’ third round

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BEAUFORT — The Princeton High girls varsity basketball team ended the Johnston County winter sports season in a road loss to East Carteret High, 58-38, on Saturday afternoon in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1-A third round.

The No. 7 seed in the East Region Lady Bulldogs (19-7) was the only Johnston County basketball team playing in the third round. The 1-A Conference Carolina champs had handled their first two games against East Columbus and Raleigh Charter rather handily. But the No. 2 Lady Mariners (21-3) of the 1-A/2-A Coastal 8 were able to use a strong transition game to win by the large margin.

“They came out in the second half and I think we were tired and flustered,” first-year head coach Paula Wooten said.

The game was 27-23 Lady Mariners in the first half due to Princeton’s 2-3 zone. But early mistakes in the first three minutes of the second half allowed the Lady Mariners to get up 35-23. Seconds later, Lady Bulldogs lead guard Meredith Wooten went down with an ankle injury and would not return. She would finish with six points. Princeton only scored two points in the third quarter while East Carteret poured in 16.

“I thought we played well in the first half, we played very good defense,” Paula Wooten said.”But I am so very proud of these girls. I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of a team than I am with this one.”

In the fourth quarter, the Lady Bulldogs would rebound by scoring 13 points, 11 of them by Princeton’s lone senior, Takiria Cummings. Cummings had struggled for most of the game but finished with a team-high 14 points.

“TK (Cummings) showed great leadership this year, and for four years she’s been a big part of the success for this program,” Wooten said. “We’re going to miss her a lot next year. It was good to see her at the end finish strong.”

East Carteret senior guard Monica Dixon scored a game-high 32 points. The Mariners were scheduled to host Weldon on Tuesday.

Coach Wooten and five of her players will now switch over to softball. Wooten said she’s excited to get a full offseason of work with her team this summer.

“I’m looking forward to next year already, because I think we got a lot of key returners,” Wooten said. “When you have success like that, it makes you want to have more success like that.”

PRINCETON (38)

Wooten 6, Braswell 8, Cummings 14, Woodall 2, Nelson 6, Radford 2, Cook, Klein, Ellis.

East Carteret (58)

Dixon 32, Taylor 12, Rose 4, Godette 4, Benders 6.

Score by quarters:

Princeton 7 16 2 13 — 38

East Carteret 11 16 16 15 — 58

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