PRINCETON — A huge fourth quarter helped the Princeton girls basketball team come from behind for a 53-41 win over Whiteville in the opening round of the state 1A basketball playoffs Monday night at home.
The Bulldogs took their first lead of the contest early in the final quarter and went on to outscore the Wolfpack 22-10 over the game's final eight minutes.
Although Princeton (15-9) dominated the fourth quarter thanks in part to hitting 10 of 11 shots at the foul line as opposed to Whiteville’s 0-7 mark at the charity stripe, the final five-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter may have been the most important stretch of the game.
Leading scorer Savanna Massengill was called for her third personal foul with 5:29 remaining in the quarter having scored 13 of her team’s 19 points up to that point.
Savanna’s younger sister Macy stepped in and made a strong contribution to the Princeton cause with a couple key rebounds, some tough interior defense and a key pass to Charley Cox to help break the Wolfpack press at one point for an easy bucket.
During the pivotal stretch that had Massengill on the bench, Kortney Edwards and Tori Paul also came up big with some defensive stands. Point guard Charley Cox took posted 10 points as the Bulldogs outscored Whiteville 12-8 without their leading scorer and tied the game by the end of the frame for the first time since the opening tip.
“I thought that Macy came in and did a great job for us boxing out and playing defense,” Princeton coach Marty Gurganus said. “Charley, offensively, carried us through that time.”
A technical foul assessed against the Wolfpack due to an illegal substitution led to Massengill, now back on the court, providing the Bulldogs with their first lead of the game at 33-31 three seconds into the last quarter of play.
Whiteville (11-10), representing the Three Rivers Conference, took a five point lead after one quarter and stretched it to as many as seven in the first half as the Wolfpack were the more aggressive team in the game’s first half.
Madison Hinton led Whiteville with 10 points and Donita Wilson ended her night with five points and eight rebounds.
“I thought Whiteville came out and were very patient and moved the ball well against our 2-3 zone and made some baskets early,” Gurganus said. “We just had to keep fighting through it.
“We were not at our best and you’ve got to give Whiteville credit for some of that but we found a way to win.”
Tori Paul added five big fourth quarter points and 12 rebounds for the Bulldogs who advanced to visit on top-seeded Granville Central Wednesday night.