The clock ran out on one of the best seasons in Mountain Heritage Lady Cougar basketball history in the Western Sectional Championship game in Burnsville Friday night where a sharp shooting Pisgah Sugar Bear squad nailed down a 57-52 victory at the foul line.
Pisgah (24-6) connected on 20 of 21 attempts from the charity stripe in the third round of the NCHSAA 2-A girls basketball playoff game, with the Sugar Bears only miss coming with 29 seconds left to play in the elimination game.
The Lady Cougars (27-3) had a couple of good looks inside the lane on their final possession but couldn't get a shot to fall as Heritage fans argued for a foul, but to no avail. Pisgah secured the win at the line, hitting on their final four free throws.
Samm Chandler, who led Heritage with 23 points including 12 in the third quarter, hit a pair of free throws with 37 seconds left in the third to tie the game at 39 entering the fourth and a Kaylon Johnson 3-pointer gave Mountain Heritage a 42-39 lead at the start of the final eight minute session.
But Pisgah freshman Brooklyn Allen scored 13 points, including seven in a row to let the Bears maintain a slim lead throughout most of the 4th quarter.
Mountain Heritage, the #1 seed jumped ahead 7-2 at the start but the Sugar Bears, a #4 seed, held the Lady Cougars scoreless for over five minutes in the opening stanza and led by as many as nine points in the first half before settling on a 30-25 advantage at the intermission.
Kaylon Johnson finished with 14 points for the Cougars, including a 3-pointer that tied the game at 52 with a minute left to in regulation. Destiny Elkins, fought hard inside on the boards and added 11 points to the effort.
The Lady Cougars advanced to the Sectional title game with a 54-37 win over #9 seed North Henderson (10-16).
Samm Chandler and Destiny Elkins carried the load for the Lady Cougars in the first half as Heritage raced to a 20-6 lead in the first seven minutes and led by 9 points at the half as the two combined to score 19 of the team’s 29 first half points.
A 17-8 Lady Cougar run to start the second half blew the lid off the second round game and Heritage cruised to a 54-37 win.
Elkins scored 10 of her team high 15 points in the first half while Chandler finished with 14, scoring 9 in the opening 16 minutes of play while point guard Nyssa Freeman nailed three 3’pointers to score 9 points for the Lady Cougars.
Heritage opened tournament play with a 69-54 win over West Caldwell. The Lady Cougars played consistent on both ends of the court and pulled away with solid foul shooting in the 4th quarter.
The Lady Cougars, who were led by Samm Chandler (19 points), Destiny Elkins (16 points) and Nyssa Freeman (13 points), won in spite of a 26 point performance by Lady Warrior Daryan Dixon-Dula.
Coach Shelton will return eight players including starters Nyssa Freeman, Abby Bailey and Destiny Elkins so you can count on another great Lady Cougar team representing Mountain Heritage come the 2013-2014 hoop season in Yancey County.
By David Grindstaff