09/29/2022
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Fresh off of their 67-58 victory over No. 4 seed East Carteret Thursday night, East Bladen’s Lady Eagles, now 25-3, will travel to LaGrange Saturday for a 3rd round NCHSAA Class 2A girls basketball playoff game against No. 5 seed North Lenoir.

Coach Patty Evers’ Lady Eagles bombed the Lady Mariners with six 3-point baskets in the 1st half – 5 by junior AnnaGrey Heustess, who led the Lady Eagle scoring with 19 points – en route to a 41-18 halftime lead.

Freshman Laila Smith worked the paint for 13 1st half points, and senior Alexus Mitchell sank 11 of 14 free throws and also scored 13 points. Junior Maegan Burney added 10 points, and senior Maya McDonald dominated the boards with 24 rebounds.

McDonald leads the Lady Eagles in scoring (13 ppg), rebounds (9 rpg), and assists (5 per game). Mitchell averages 11 ppg, and Burney adds 10 ppg. Freshman Iveonna “NeNe” Ward leads the East Bladen defense with 5 steals per game.

This is the Lady Eagles 1st visit to the 3rd round of the playoffs since the 2018 East Bladen team that was led by Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson and Patience Ward dropped a 93-82 overtime decision at Richlands.

North Lenoir’s Lady Hawks were co-champions of the East Central 2A along with No. 14 Eastern seed Southwest Onslow. North Lenoir split with Southwest in league play losing 41-40 and winning 54-39 and again 44-38 in the East Central Tournament Championship game. The Lady Hawks’ other losses were 69-49 and 53-36 to No. 3 Eastern seed Farmville Central and 57-39 to Class 4A No. 4 seed Wilmington Hoggard.

Ashanti Lynch, a 5-9 senior, leads the North Lenoir scoring with a 25 ppg average. Lynch blistered the nets with 47 points in the Lady Hawks’ 74-60 2nd round victory over Elizabeth City Northeastern. Senior Tajah Pittman leads the team in assists and steals.

Sophomore Shamaya Lynch averages 8.2 ppg and has posted 9 double-figure scoring games including a season-high 23 points against Eastern Wayne. Senior Noura Zayyad chips in with 4 ppg. Other key players include 5-8 senior Janiya Jones, 5-10 senior Christiannyah Sparrow and junior Tiasia Bryant.

The Lady Hawks were eliminated in the 1st round of last year’s COVID-abbreviated playoffs, but in 2020 North Lenoir defeated St. Pauls 52-49 in the 3rd round, before losing in the Eastern Regional semifinal to eventual state co-champion Farmville Central.