Cowgirls capture tourney crown

Dec. 29, 2012 @ 11:20 PM

Each time Western Guilford made a run, the Southwest Guilford girls responded.

After trailing by six to end the first quarter, the Cowgirls outscored the Hornets 21-8 in the second quarter to grab control and held off two second-half rallies to win 64-51 on Saturday in the championship game of the Sheetz Holiday Christmas Basketball Classic at Southwest Guilford.

“I’m very excited,” said Southwest coach Jessica Bryan, whose team also won the tournament title last year. “Western’s a good team overall with a good coaching staff. We’d played them twice this year, so I knew they wanted to play us and they wanted to get us back. They stepped up.

“I was proud of my girls, especially in the first half, because they went on a run, got up on us and sometimes teams deflate when things happen. But my girls fought through and I was proud of their composure and intensity.”

Following an 11-0 run by Western to lead 19-13 after one quarter, the Cowgirls (6-5) opened the second quarter on a 14-4 run — keyed by two three-point plays by Aja Mott and one by Ayana Rivers — to lead 27-23 and help go into halftime with a 34-27 lead.

From there, Southwest stretched its lead to 10 early in the third but had to hang on as the Hornets, who lost twice to the Cowgirls in their previous games this season, twice pulled within two — the last time with four minutes left in the game. But Southwest refused to wither under the pressure.

“I feel like that shows signs of a mature team,” said junior guard Briana Burgins, who was named the tournament MVP. “That we don’t rattled very easily. That we come together rather easily and calm down, refocus and try to break whatever teams bring at us.”

Mott finished with 20 points to lead the Cowgirls, who host Piedmont Triad 4A Conference rival Ragsdale on Friday. Burgins also had 19 points followed by Kennedy Porter with 13 and Rivers with eight. Letricia Smith scored 17 to lead Western trailed by Selena Lozada (13) and Evana Davis (12).

Also named to the all-tournament team were Mott and Porter from Southwest, Smith and Karimah Dean from Western, and October Campbell from T.W. Andrews.