The No. 1-ranked Pisgah girls basketball has made a living this season on delivering big scoring runs that are akin to knockout punches.
It just took a little longer than usual to land it Monday night.
Pisgah overcome first-half foul trouble and miscues thanks to a late third-quarter scoring run en route to a 71-56 win over No. 8 Susan Moore in the Class 3A Northeast Regional semifinals at Jacksonville State University’s Pete Mathews Coliseum.
“It was kind of relief,” said Pisgah forward Kaylee Vaught of Pisgah’s 17-0 run that pushed its lead into double digits.
“It was about time,” added senior forward Bailey Law.
The win advanced the defending state champion Eagles to a regional championship game rematch late Wednesday with No. 10 Glencoe (21-9), which defeated Weaver 67-39 in Monday’s other semifinal.
Pisgah head coach Carey Ellison said Pisgah (31-1) was happy “to survive” after a tough shooting night and its “first-half issues.”
“You could tell we had a week off, could tell we had our minds in other places. We started missing easy shots, started fouling and it kind of snowballed on us in the first half from one mistake to another. I was proud of the way we came back in the second half and put forth the effort that we needed the whole time,” Ellison said.
“Considering the foul trouble in the first half and far from having a good shooting night, definitely glad to get out of here with a win.”
The Eagles shot 24-of-67 for the game (36 percent) and 4-of-22 from the 3-point arc (18 percent). Pisgah made 19-of-26 free-throw attempts.
Pisgah raced in front 8-0 before Susan Moore was able to attempt a shot. But the Pisgah standout Annie Hughes soon went to the bench with her second foul, and fellow starter Chloe Womack followed soon after. In the meantime, Susan Moore began to shoot at a blistering clip and wound up shooting 57 percent in the first half. But despite all that, Pisgah managed to keep the game tied 31-all at halftime.
Susan Moore (27-6) held a 37-34 lead with 5:29 left in the third quarter when Pisgah started its surge.
Hughes made two free throws to start the run, and Vaught followed with a 3-pointer after a Hughes steal to put Pisgah in front 39-37. Law then hit a layup after a Molly Heard steal, Law added a free throw, Vaught swished another 3-pointer, Law scored again on run-out layups after steals from Heard and Womack before Heard hit two free throws to close out the scoring run. The Bulldogs were held scoreless for nearly five minutes.
“The third quarter got us,” said Susan Moore head coach Natasha Smallwood. “We turned the ball over and Pisgah capitalized on that with points. They [built] a lead we could never overcome.”
Pisgah led by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter.
Law scored a game-high 18 points to go with five rebounds and three steals while Vaught had 15 points, six rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals. Hughes scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half for the Eagles while Heard recorded 11 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and four steals and Womack had nine points, two assists and three steals. Hallie Holmes scored 21 points and Abby Floyd added 10 for Susan Moore.