Pisgah girls basketball rolls to eighth straight County Clash win

Feb. 6—Red and gold filled the gym at Pisgah High School on Tuesday night for the second legs of the basketball season's County Clash.

In the girls game, Pisgah came out red hot on their way to a resounding 64-32 victory over Tuscola.

"I was super excited with the way the girls played tonight after Friday night's tough loss against a good West Henderson team," Pisgah girls coach Brandon Holloway said. "Tonight, the girls played free. They relaxed. They played sound defense in the half-court and it allowed us to get out in transition."

After one quarter, the Lady Bears had a strong 22-7 lead. By halftime, that lead had grown to 46-15.

The early momentum was certainly a swing for Pisgah. The Lady Bears have relied on forcing turnovers to create fast-break offense all year, but it was never more apparent than it was against their cross-county rivals on Tuesday night.

"I think [forcing turnovers] gave them confidence and then the shots started falling," Holloway said. "They were a little more settled and more confident and were able to make some big shots early."

Another big aspect of the win for Pisgah was the team's dominance on the boards. The home side won the rebounding battle 34-21, despite having a relatively small team.

Pisgah already had a guard-heavy squad early in the year, but injuries have made it even tougher for the Lady Bears when it comes to grabbing rebounds.

"We know that our group is vertically challenged in a lot of areas," Holloway said. "We have to be aggressive on the boards and be intentional about getting to the ball. If you look at the games where we've had a lot of success, we rebounded the ball well."

Three minutes into the third quarter, Pisgah sophomore Kylee Leonard hit a reverse layup to put the Lady Bears up 57-17. The 40-point lead got the running clock going, keeping the scoring lower for the majority of the second half.

Tuscola did put some pressure on Pisgah in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Lady Bears 12-3 in the final frame.

Tuscola junior Sofia Wijewickrama led the Lady Mounties in scoring with nine points, a third of which came in the final period of the game.

For Pisgah, there were several star performances. Senior Dot Mills led the team in scoring, assists, rebounds and steals — with 17 points, four assists, six boards and five takeaways.

"I'm so proud of her," Holloway said. "We wanted Dot to be able to go out this season being undefeated against them. She came out with that competitive edge she always has. She knows the Tuscola game. She's been in this enough to know what kind of battle it is. She led us again tonight in a big way."

Sophomore Chandler Lowery finished second in scoring with 13 points, continuing her play alongside Mills in the guard positions.

Freshman Jade Cody was third in scoring with 12 points. She also grabbed three rebounds and four steals.

Cody has played solid all season, but in recent weeks has stepped into a starting role with the team.

"It was one of those "ah-ha moments" for her tonight — something we've seen and know she has the capability of doing, but still learning," Holloway said about the freshman. "She's so young and she's taking that next step. She played so aggressive and so confident tonight. I couldn't be more happy to see someone have a big game like she did."

Now, the Lady Bears will look to roll the momentum into their final two regular-season games and the postseason.

"We're still nowhere near our potential," Holloway said. "We have a young team. Our thing is just to continue to build and get momentum for the tournament. We start a new season in two weeks. We don't want to take these last two for granted, but we want to use them to continue to get sharper. Our eyes are on finishing strong here and then going into the tournament with a hunger and trying to win that tournament championship."