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Ashley girls top New Hanover


Breanna Edwards heads to the hoop as Ashley High School hosts the New Hanover girls basketball team in the NCHSAA playoffs Monday. (Photo by Paul Stephen)


The Ashley Screaming Eagles started slow, then turned it on the second half and punished New Hanover 67-34 on Monday in the first round of the Class 4A state girls basketball tournament.

New Hanover started the game on a 6-1 run, but the Screaming Eagles slowly chipped away and cut the Wildcats' lead the lead to 14-12 after one quarter.

"I don't know what kind of a start we had, it was really flat," said Ashley coach Adrienne Gale. "Maybe we were just complacent because we had played them so many times. I don't know what it was. But luckily they got going."

Did they ever. The Screaming Eagles outscored New Hanover 18-9 in the second quarter to take a 30-23 lead into halftime, then ran away with the game in the third, outscoring the Wildcats 21-6.

Much of Ashley's success had to do with hot shooting, as the Screaming Eagles shot 53 percent from the field in the game.

"We just came out on fire in third," said Gale. "We just kept rolling in the second half. That's the energy we were looking for and the level of play that we were looking for."

The Screaming Eagles' defensive pressure, along with their ability to get offensive rebounds and second chance looks at the basket, were too much for the Wildcats to handle. The Screaming Eagles (19-6) outrebounded New Hanover 25-17 while holding the Wildcats (13-12) to a 32% shooting percentage from the field.

"You've got to be relentless, you've got to go after the ball," said Gale. "In the first half we were going after it but knocking it out of our own teammates' hands. So I told them if you see your teammate there let them get it.

"In the second half we adjusted our defense," Gale added. "We got steals in the first half but gave it right back to them. Then we made some adjustments, we were able to get steals, and we were able to capitalize."

Win the win, the Screaming Eagles will now have to face the Laney Buccaneers for a fifth time this season. Ashley is 1-3 against the Lady Bucs this year, but all four games were close entering the fourth quarter.

"I mean, it is what it is," said Gale. "It's going to be a battle. We're just going to go out and try and execute a little bit better than we did Friday night, play with the same level of intensity, and we'll see what happens."