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SMITHFIELD — A tightly contested varsity girls basketball game between 1-A Carolina Conference foes Princeton and Neuse Charter on Monday went into overtime and came down to who could make free throws — and Princeton knocked its down to win in overtime, 46-43.
Princeton made 7-of-9 free throws in overtime while Neuse Charter could only hit 1-of-6. Sophomore point guard Meredith Wooten hit 5-of-6 free throws — including the two to put the Lady Bulldogs (6-5, 2-0 Carolina) up 44-43. Wooten played hero twice Monday night as she knocked down the 3-pointer to send the game to overtime with 20 seconds after a Lady Cougars turnover (5-3, 1-1) — it was Wooten’s second bucket of the game.
“It was intense,” Wooten said. “I felt like everything was on me. The pressure was on. I just had to relax and have confidence.”
Neuse Charter had a chance to win as they advanced the ball above half court and called a timeout with eight seconds left. After the ball was knocked away from Kayla Ham’s hands into out of bounds, there was .9 seconds left. But on the inbound, Staten was fouled and went to the line for the one-and-one — she missed and the game headed to overtime tied at 37.
It was a juxtaposition for Staten, who grabbed an offensive rebound and made an three-point play with 40 seconds left to put the Lady Cougars up 37-34. The basket was set up by senior Sarah Gaskins’ 3-pointer with a minute left to tie the game up at 34.
The Lady Cougars are the defending conference champions, but without three of their top four scorers returning, first-year head coach Robbie Taylor said this team isn’t that team and has a work to do. Taylor said this type of game was good for his team because it tested them and gave them experience of playing in a late-game situation.
“We’re having to build this team fundamentally from the ground up,” Taylor said. “I have girls who have no basketball experience on the floor. Everyone of these girls sat on the bench last year, only two of them that got any playing time at all.”
It was the Lady Bulldogs’ first game in 24 days and head coach Paula Wooten said she almost dreaded playing the game.
“I’m proud of them for not quitting and playing hard,” Paula Wooten said. “Beating Neuse is big because I feel like they’re one of the better teams in the conference.”
Reanna Braswell led the Lady Bulldogs in scoring with 19 points. Wooten finished with 13 points.
Neuse Charter was led by Dargan Harris’ 16 points. Staten and Ham put in 10 and 8, respectively.
Wooten 13, Nelson 1, Woodall 6, Cummings 7, Braswell 19
Neuse Charter (43)
Ham 8, Staten 10, Gaskins 5, Da. Harris 16, Mitchell 2, De. Harris 2
Score by quarters:
Princeton 9 2 16 10 9 — 46
Neuse Charter 5 10 6 16 6 — 43