The SoMeck 4A girls’ basketball race isn’t over yet.
Berry Academy pulled to within a game of first-place Ardrey Kell with a 49-39 win Friday on the Knights’ home court with a pair of league contests remaining. The Cardinals led 10-4 after one quarter and were never behind, opening gaps as wide as 12 points to even the regular-season series at a game each.
“That was huge for us,” Berry Academy coach Marquis Hines said. “We work really hard in practice and I’m a new coach coming from a new state, so we’re starting from scratch. I’m just so proud of them.”
The Cardinals, who were missing a pair of starters, took Ardrey Kell down with balance. Senior center Ra’shika White led all scorers with 15 points while point guard Jordan McLaughlin added 10. When White picked up her fourth foul in the fourth quarter, McLaughlin ran the spread offense and kept Berry Academy in front.
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“We’ve taken Ra’shika out of a couple of our games, but in the stretch run our guards attack well, so we spread the floor a bit,” Hines said. “Even in practice I take her out so our girls can play without her on the floor so they don’t panic when she’s not out there.”
Ardrey Kell climbed to within 39-35 on Journey Muhammad’s free throw with five minutes left but Berry Academy responded with a 10-4 rally to seal the win. Chase Muhammad paced the Knights with 11 points while Journey Muhammad added nine.
“They got a big lead and played really hard,” Knights coach Jeff Buseick said. “I’m proud of how we fought back, but when you dig a hole, it makes it a little bit harder to come out of.”
Berry Academy saw to it in the first half with the 6-foot-3 White racking up 13 points before intermission, primarily around the basket. When Ardrey Kell sagged inside, she found open shooters on the perimeter.
“She’s a tough player,” Buseick said. “She’s got good size and played well tonight.”
Berry Academy 16-3, 10-2 SoMeck 4A; Ardrey Kell 17-5, 11-1 SoMeck 4A.
Berry Academy outscored Ardrey Kell in three of four quarters.
Berry Academy plays at West Mecklenburg Feb. 9; Ardrey Kell plays at Charlotte Catholic Feb. 9.