Special to LTN
LINCOLNTON — A lot of things didn’t go right for the Lincolnton girls basketball team Friday against rival East Lincoln.
Fortunately for the Lady Wolves, staying undefeated and in first place of the Southern Piedmont Conference wasn’t one of them.
Lincolnton held off a pesky — and big underdog — in the Lady Mustangs for a 33-28 victory. The Lady Wolves improved to 10-3 overall and 5-0 in conference to maintain a one-game lead over North Lincoln and Lake Norman Charter.
A quick glimpse at the box score Friday wouldn’t point at a victory for Lincolnton:
— The team’s second and third-leading scorers, Treasure Avery and Alexis Killian, combined for just four points (they average about 20 per game combined) and made just one field goal between them.
— The Lady Wolves did not make a field goal in the game’s final 11:50 and scored just four points in the final quarter, all on free throws.
But as good teams do, Lincolnton found a way to win. The Lady Wolves leaned heavily on Bridget Derr in the post. Derr scored eight of her game-high 15 points in the third quarter. Sydney Devine added eight points and Nadia Byers hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored six points.
Early, it looked like Lincolnton would cruise to an easy win. Devine scored four consecutive points to give the Lady Wolves an 11-2 lead with 2:18 left in the opening quarter. But Jennifer Allison sparked a 6-0 run with a pair of baskets and the Lady Mustangs (1-12, 1-4) pulled within 12-8 after the first quarter.
Allison scored eight of her team-high 12 points in the first half as East Lincoln stayed within striking distance, 17-12, entering the third quarter.
Lincolnton put together its best quarter of the night after halftime, outscoring East Lincolnton 12-5 to pull ahead 29-17. But Ashlee Frazier scored five points and Allison and Hanna Moolenaar added baskets as the Lady Mustangs reeled off the first nine points of the final quarter to cut the Lady Wolves lead to 29-26 with 2:26 left.
Devine sank two free throws to stop the run, but Frazier hit two of her own to keep the lead at just three, 31-28, with less than a minute left in the game. But Killian made two of four free throws in the final 24.3 seconds and East Lincoln wouldn’t score again.