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Asha Hardaway (20) for Northwest High School celebrates the final seconds as Northwest defeats Dudley High School 39-38. Hardaway lead all scores for Northwest with 10 points and was tournament MVP of the girls championship game of the 2004 Pizza Hut Little 4 Invitational Tournament at the Greensboro Special Events building December 29, 2004. Northwest repeats as champions in the tournament. Photo by Lynn Hey

GREENSBORO — Little Four Tournament girls MVP Asha Hardaway of Northwest Guilford scored 10 points to lead the No. 2-seeded Vikings, and played solid defense, to help stop Dudley’s fourth-quarter rally Wednesday night, as Northwest prevailed 39-38 at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center.

Wednesday’s tournament championship is the second consecutive for Northwest, while top-seeded Dudley has now reached the Little Four girls title game eight times without winning a tourney crown.

After trailing 26-12 at halftime, Dudley (6-2) made a fierce second-half comeback attempt on the strength of Nikki Kee’s game-high 16 points, eight of which came in the final period.

The Panthers briefly led 34-33 with 3:26 remaining in the game, before Northwest (11-1) tied the score, then took the lead again with 2:33 remaining.

Sierra Little made one of two free throws to pull the Panthers to within 39-38.

With 6.6 seconds remaining, Northwest was whistled for a 5-second violation on an inbounds pass, giving Dudley a final possession, and a chance to win the game.

“I think our girls lost their composure in the second half,” said Vikings assistant coach Sissy Rausch. “They seemed to be playing not to lose, instead of playing to win. We stopped attacking the basket.”

However, on the game’s final possession, the Northwest defense held, as it had all night.

“In that first half, we just didn’t play Panther basketball,” Dudley coach Kris Britton said. “Panther basketball is playing with tenacity. It’s playing tough, smash-mouth-style defense. I think that first half took the wind out of us emotionally.”

Northwest used a matchup zone defense in the first half, which created problems for Dudley’s frontcourt duo of Candace Saunders and Little, who finished with only nine and three points, respectively.

“We played really hard-nosed defense. It was good, team basketball,” Hardaway said. “We went to a box-in-one defense on Little and Saunders, and double-teamed them some.”

“It’s a relief to win the tournament again,” Northwest head coach Darlene Joyner said. “We didn’t go into the tournament with pressure to win it again, because we truly viewed this tournament as the strongest Little Four Tournament we’ve been in.”

Northwest Guilford

11

15

5

8

39

Dudley

6

6

9

17

38

Northwest Guilford (10-1) — Asha Hardaway 10, Stephanie Pyne 8, Emily French 8, Traci Stewart 6, Taylor Miller 6, Whitney Joyner 1.

Dudley (6-1) — Nikki Kee 16, Candace Saunders 9, Chereena Clay 4, Kendra Porter 4, Sierra Little 3, Tiaera Reynolds 2.

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