By MICHAEL HUGHES
BESSEMER CITY –– With Friday’s 48-39 win at Bessemer City, Lincoln Charter’s girls basketball team stayed unbeaten and took sole possession of first place in the Southern Piedmont 1A Conference.
Both teams were unblemished in league play prior to tip-off, and the Eagles were a half game up on the Yellow Jackets in the SPC.
Lincoln Charter (13-0, 5-0) doubled the score on Bessemer City (7-7, 3-1) by the end of the first half, and held off the charging host with the help of 15 points by junior Madelyn Holmes and 13 by sophomore Madi Neesmith.
“As long as we controlled the tempo we were fine,” said Lincoln Charter coach Franklin Lowery, “but we got out of character and allowed them to cut into our lead. It took awhile for us to get it back (to double-digits). But they settled down.”
Down 28-14 at the half, the Yellow Jackets clamped down on defense and held the Eagles to seven points in the third quarter and 13 in the fourth, nine of the latter points coming from Holmes.
“We started off slow,” Jackets coach J.J. Stamey said. “We got in a little hurry with the press that they threw at us. If we could have handled their press well I think we would of had a chance to win.”
Foul trouble in the early stages also plagued Bessemer City, which was beaten soundly all night on the boards.
“(They had) too many second chance points,” Stamey said.
The Yellow Jackets whittled the lead down to eight at 32-24 before Lincoln Charter junior Caitlyn Miller drained a 3-point basket as the third quarter horn sounded, pushing the lead back to 11.
Bessemer City stayed aggressive in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get any closer while making 6-of-19 free throws and getting a key 3 from sophomore Tierra Dameron (10 points).
The rim mount on the basketball goal came loose at the host end of the floor with 2:35 to play and Lincoln Charter holding a 42-31 lead. The support was repaired using medical tape, and play resumed without hindrance.
Forward Madison Carter (15 points) led the Jackets with 15, six of those coming in the last eight minutes.
“I knew it was going to be tough, especially playing here,” said Lowery. “And J.J.’s done a good job with his squad. But this is the kind of stuff that tests your character. Other than the big girl (6-foot-2 senior Victoria Cobb), we’re still young. They haven’t been accustomed to playing this kind of competition.”
BESSEMER CITY 64
LINCOLN CHARTER 41
The Yellow Jackets (10-5, 3-1) outscored the Eagles (6-10, 1-4) 22-7 in the first quarter and never looked back as Lincoln Charter fell into a tie for fifth in the standings.
Amir Davis led the Eagles with 11 and Christian Hilty added nine. Lincoln Charter has lost four straight in league play.