Excel wins; Cass eliminated in region tournament

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Excel held Christian Heritage to a single point in the third quarter while stepping up its offensive production to earn its 12th victory of the season, 46-23, in girls high school basketball Saturday night.

Also, Cass came close but lost late to Forsyth Central, 47-41, to put a wrap to its season in the second round of region tournament play.

Excel 46, Christian Heritage 23

The Lady Eagles had trailed 16-13 at the break before engineering the turnaround with 25 points in the second half while allowing 7 by their opponent.

Anna Lane Hattaway led Excel with 17 points.

Excel got off to a slow start against Christian Heritage, scoring just four points in the first quarter. The Lady Eagles tallied 9 points in the second frame.

Excel scored 12 points in the third quarter and 13 in the final period of the game, playing on the road.

The Lady Eagles set a school record last week by claiming their 11th victory of the season, adding to that record with the latest win. The Saturday victory closed the regular season for the Lady Eagles, who finished with a 12-13 overall record. Excel was 6-4 in region play.

Also scoring for Excel were Lindsey Mauldin, 8; Whitney Harris and Rylie Boston, 7 each; Kalli Beth Scheff, 6; and Brighton McCollum, 3.

Excel had defeated Christian Heritage at home on Jan. 15 by a score of 35-28. The Lady Eagles next play in the regional tournament.

Tournament loss

Cass played toe to toe with Forsyth Central through three quarters but couldn’t keep up the pace in the final quarter and closed out their season with a 47-41 loss in the regional tournament.

Head coach Burt Jackson noted the Lady Colonels had played Friday night and said he believes they might have gotten a different result if they had been a little fresher.

“I’m very proud of our team,” he said. “We’re an extremely young team, and our girls fought hard and played well. We reached two of the three goals we had set for the season, finishing with a winning record at 13-13, and doing well against the other teams in our county.”

He said the team came up just short of their goal to make the state playoffs. Cass got a strong start on the evening, grabbing a 10-1 lead after a quarter of play.

The Lady Colonels stretched their lead to 19-6 at halftime, but Forsyth Central used a 20-7 run in the third frame and was able to start the final period with the two teams tied at 26-all.

Jackson said Forsyth Central didn’t play Friday night while Cass had a hard-fought game and he thought that showed.

“We were very focused in the first half, but we got a little fatigued and our shots started falling a little short in the second half,” Jackson said.

Still, he said, he is pleased with his team’s performance.

“This team grew this season,” he said. “We had two ninth-graders who played in about half of each of our games as well as a sophomore who saw a lot of action.

“Jana [Morning] and Esmeralda [Thomas] made strong contributions, and with them and our younger players, I feel our future is bright,” he said. “I feel like, with the experience our young players got this season and the fact we’ll be in a new region next year, we have the foundation for a successful season next year.”

Thomas led Cass with 14 points; Morning scored 7 points; Payton Stoddard and Lexi Walraven contributed 6 each; Kyla Michienzi, Chanel Clemmons, Alexis Ware and Hayley Gildersleeve, 2 each.

“We had a lot of good things happen to us this season,” Jackson added. “I know the girls are hurting right now, but we’ll take some time off and we’ll soon start getting ready for summer.”

He said the team finished 13-13 officially but added the Lady Colonels won their exhibition game at the start of the regular season, adding it was treated as a regular season contest and had all the trappings of a regular season game.