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Heidelberg eliminates PCA from playoffs

[2/18/03]GREENVILLE It didn’t take a great effort by Heidelberg to knock Porters Chapel Academy out of the Academy-A state tournament Monday afternoon. It just took a bad one by the Lady Eagles.

PCA shot 29 percent from the floor, hit only 5 of 13 free throws, and was outrebounded 30-15 by Heidelberg, helping the Lady Rebels win the first-round tournament game 49-39.

“We just didn’t come here to play. Offensively or defensively, it was just one of those days we didn’t play very well,” PCA coach Kevin Griffin said. “I don’t know if we were tired from the long week or what, but big games like that we just have to come focused and ready to play, and we didn’t do that.”

Brady Willis led PCA with 13 points, Annie Beaugh had 10 all in the fourth quarter and Brittany Willis had six points and seven rebounds.

Courtney Thomas led Heidelberg with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Suzanne Lightsey, Katie Barnett, and Jennifer Barnett each had nine. Lightsey also grabbed eight rebounds.

Heidelberg (20-14) advanced to play Delta in the second round Wednesday at Greenville Christian, while PCA ended its season with a 34-8 record.

“It was a loss. It was the worst pain I’ve ever felt. That’s all I’ve really got to say,” said Brittany White, who had six points and five steals, and was one of seven PCA seniors who saw their high school careers come to an end on Monday. PCA only has three varsity players returning for next season.

The Lady Eagles never got into a rhythm offensively, from warmups until the final buzzer. They hit just 2 of 10 shots from the field in the first quarter, while Heidelberg held a 9-2 rebounding edge.

PCA was still able to stay in the game, however, thanks to Heidelberg’s problems handling the basketball. The Lady Rebels committed 16 turnovers in the first half, and 30 in the game.

Thanks in large part to Heidelberg’s miscues, PCA took a 10-8 lead early in the second quarter. That was when Heidelberg finally got its act together, using its height advantage to dominate the boards, deny PCA any second-chance opportunities, and go on a 7-0 run.

The surge propelled the Lady Rebels to a 19-14 halftime lead, and they never trailed again.

“I knew we were going to have a height advantage, and I told the girls how important it was going to be,” Heidelberg coach Cindy Brownlee said. “They’re a great shooting team, and we couldn’t let them get second and third chances.”

More sloppy play by the Lady Eagles in the third quarter they had seven turnovers and were just 2-for-11 from the field in the period helped Heidelberg stretch the lead to 29-19.

Then, midway through the fourth quarter, PCA’s shots finally began to fall.

Brittany White banked in a pair of 3-pointers and Annie Beaugh and Brady Willis each hit one as the Lady Eagles cut it to 42-36 with 3:15 to play. Brittany Willis hit a short jumper with 2:50 to play, and Beaugh hit one of two free throws 50 seconds later to make it 42-39.

“We finally started executing our sets,” Griffin said. “We probably ran four of our calls correctly the entire ballgame, and that’s not typical of us.”

The three-point margin was as close as the Lady Eagles could get, though.

Brady Willis missed a 3-pointer with 1:37 to play, and Lightsey hit a layup on the other end of the floor to push the Heidelberg’s lead back to 44-39.

A couple of turnovers forced the Lady Eagles to foul down the stretch, and Heidelberg went 4-for-6 from the free throw line in the final minute to seal the game.

“We haven’t been doing very well from the free throw line this season,” Brownlee said. “Tonight, down the stretch, it was the thing that kicked in for us, and that’s what you’ve got to do come playoff time.”