High School Sports

Mallard Creek girls rally falls short in NCHSAA semifinals

Mallard Creek players react to their loss against Northwest Guilford in the NCHSAA 4A Western Regional Championship game on Saturday. Northwest Guilford defeated Mallard Creek 59-58.
Mallard Creek players react to their loss against Northwest Guilford in the NCHSAA 4A Western Regional Championship game on Saturday. Northwest Guilford defeated Mallard Creek 59-58. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Mallard Creek’s magical unbeaten girls high school basketball season came to an end Saturday.

The Mavericks struggled with Northwest Guilford’s size and struggled maintaining their composure during a portion of their 59-58 loss in the N.C. 4A state semifinals, but Mallard Creek made one tremendous run to almost steal it.

Down 53-48 with five minutes, 34 seconds left to play – after they had suffered two technical fouls in 30 seconds – the Mavericks clamped down on defense. Northwest Guilford scored just six points the rest of the way. But Lindsay Gauldin made two free throws with 13.1 seconds left that put Northwest up 59-55 – and would send her team to the state championship game for the second straight season.

Mallard Creek’s Dazia Lawrence made a deep 3-point shot with 4.6 seconds left, but Mallard Creek simply ran out of time.

“I think we learned some things,” said Mallard Creek coach CJ Johnson, who only loses senior starters Janae Davis and Kay’lla Richardson next season. “And we’ll be back. But I hate it for our seniors. They won’t get to taste this again. But in the summer when they don’t want to work, we can cue up this film. But this hurts, man. It really does.”

Three who mattered

Ahlana Smith, Mallard Creek: Junior had game-high 18 points including some big shots during the rally.

Dazia Lawrence, Mallard Creek: 17 points, six rebounds, three assists and a steal.

Elizabet Kitley, Northwest Guilford: 6-4 center had 17 points, 12 rebounds and two steals. She provided a huge safety valve for her team against Mallard Creek’s incessant pressure.

Observations

▪  Mallard Creek was called for 23 personal fouls, compared to 13 for Northwest. The constant whistles kept Mallard Creek from running much – or finding a rhythm. Forced to play a slowdown game against a bigger team did not work to the Mavericks’ advantage.

▪  Mallard Creek really struggled with the size. The tallest Maverick was 5-11 while Northwest had two 6-4 players. The Mavericks were outrebounded 41-29 and Northwest shot 33 free throws compared to 15 for the Mavericks.

▪  Northwest Guilford’s 3-2 zone dared Mallard Creek to shoot – and the Mavericks shot poorly. Mallard Creek made 7-of-21 3-point attempts and shot 33 percent overall for the game.

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