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Page High School's Lauren Seeger (11) struggles to hold onto the rebound against Northwest's Traci Stewart (22) in the semi-final round of the 2004 Pizza Hut Little 4 Invitational Tournament at the Greensboro Special Events building December 28, 2004. Northwest wins to advance to the championship game. Photo by Lynn Hey

GREENSBORO — Northwest Guilford freshman center Traci Stewart was in the right place at the right time — several times — for the Vikings in their Little Four Invitational semifinal game against Page.

Every time a Northwest Guilford guard would penetrate the lane, Stewart was left open and she made the Pirates pay with 10 points, including the go-ahead basket with 50 seconds left in the Vikings 47-43 victory. The win gives Northwest Guilford a chance to defend its Little Four title.

“Our guards we’re really making good passes,” Stewart said. “Their penetration was really the key.”

Northwest coach Darlene Joyner knows Stewart has some big shoes to fill in the low post, but she has already showed steady improvement.

“This was only the second game she has started,” Joyner said. “She brings a lot of energy and we liked that, so we decided to use that.”

After the Vikings (10-1) built a 41-35 lead, the Pirates (9-1) stormed back and tied the game at 43 with 1:11 to play. On Northwest’s next possession, Stephanie Pyne drove down the right side of the lane, drawing two defenders. She hit a wide open Stewart under the basket with the pass and Stewart made the layup to give the Vikings the lead again.

“Our defense has to help out,” said Page coach Debbie Jones. “At first we weren’t doing that and we tried to correct it.”

Page’s BryErica Barnes was fouled on the Pirates’ next possession, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1. The Vikings’ Taylor Miller then hit two free throws to put the game away.

“We were 7-for-14 on free throws and they were 7-for-10,” Jones said. “That was the difference in the game right there.”

Both teams started slowly, but Northwest was able to build a 10-6 first quarter lead due to seven points from Emily French. Back-to-back 3-pointers to open the second quarter gave the Pirates the lead at 12-10, but Northwest’s Asha Hardaway scored five straight points and the Vikings would never trail again.

“I’m very pleased with the W,” Joyner said. “It was a little inconsistent. We wanted to penetrate more, but sometimes we overplay that too much.

“It really helped that we know their shooters. We know their tendencies and strengths.”

In the second semifinal game, Dudley proved to have too much height and quickness for Grimsley as the Panthers won 47-32. Dudley will play in the finals for the fourth time in the last five years.

“We played Panther basketball with intensity,” said Dudley coach Kris Britton. “We try to pressure the ball. We wanted to worry their guards and throw them out of sync.”

The Panthers certainly accomplished that goal in the first quarter, when the Whirlies didn’t score for nearly five minutes. Dudley’s offense was a bit sluggish, but they finally started scoring in the second and third quarters behind the play of Sierra Little.

“We’re still trying to find the group that clicks,” Britton said.

Page

6

15

9

13

43

Northwest Guilford

10

15

9

13

47

Page (9-1) — An-Tari Curry 12, Alexa Neal 9, Lauren Seeger 8, BryErica Barnes 8, Lauren Finnegan 3, Jenecia Whitaker 3.

Northwest Guilford (10-1) — Traci Stewart 10, Asha Hardaway 9, Taylor Miller 9, Emily French 8, Whitney Joyner 5, Stephanie Pyne 4, Kristen Russell 2.

Dudley

11

12

14

10

47

Grimsley

5

7

11

9

32

Dudley (6-1) — Sierra Little 16, Tiaera Reynolds 10, Candace Saunders 9, Montague Austin 7, Nikki Kee 2, Kendra Porter 2.

Grimsley (8-2) — Trumae Lucas 6, Kristin Fields 4, Brittany Nicholson 4, Jasmin Alston 4, Roxanne Neumann 3, Tonea Graves 2, Brittany Schaffer 2, Hope Warren 2, Erica Cole 2, Rickiah Wingfield 1.

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