Falcons earn split in playoff openers

Feb. 15—Lee Christian unexpectedly ended up as the host for two NCISAA 1A state playoff games Tuesday night. They nearly ended up with one big upset.

The Falcons' opening-round men's playoff game with Cresset was expected. Lee had a better record and power rating than its Mid-Carolina Conference rival and was therefore assigned as the host team. The Falcons routed the Eagles 93-65 for their third win of the season over them.

But Lee did not expect to be the host team for the women's playoff game, where the Falcons had been paired with North Hills Christian, a non-conference team from Salisbury who had beaten the Lady Falcons twice during the regular season. The first time, North Hills blew out Lee, but the rematch saw the Lady Falcons narrow the gap. In Tuesday's preview article from the Herald on the game, it said Lee needed to catch all the way up to get the win.

And they almost did so. The game had been assigned to North Hills by the NCISAA, but ongoing work on that school's gym meant that they played at Lee Christian instead. The Lady Falcons made a gutsy effort led by sophomore guard Madison Mashburn, and North Hills had to come from two down going to the fourth quarter to win the game 34-32.

Lee found itself on the ropes at halftime, after the Lady Eagles went on a 10-2 run over the last 4:30 of the first half and led 21-13 at the break. However, the Lady Falcons hit right back in the third quarter, outscoring North Hills 12-2 and taking a 25-23 lead into the last eight minutes of play.

The game remained in doubt into the final minute of action, with the Lady Eagles coming out just ahead against a team they had beaten by 17 points on the same floor six weeks earlier.

Lee Christian played the season with one junior, two sophomores, four freshmen and two eighth-graders.

The men's game was never really in doubt. Lee (14-10) had 50 points by halftime and Cresset, which lost twice to the Falcons during the regular season, scored nearly one-third of its points in a garbage-time fourth quarter that started with Lee already up by 29.

Oddly enough, the Falcons' second-round playoff game is slated to be at North Hills, which had an opening-round bye. A venue and time for this game had not been announced as of press time, but it should be played Thursday night.