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BOONETOWN – The Andrew Jackson Lady Volunteers rolled, but the AJ boys fell short in a non-region split at North Central High School on Friday, Dec. 20.
The Lady Vols, ranked No. 5 in Class AA girls, opened an early lead and coasted to a 68-38 win over the Lady Knights.
The AJ boys were in control for three periods, but hit a cold spell and the Knights took advantage to net the 71-65 comeback win.
In the opener, it was all AJ as the Lady Vols bolted to a 19-5 lead after one period. The AJ girls continued to surge in the second period, building a 37-17 lead at intermission.
“We had a good night and got off to a good start,” AJ coach Dennis Farmer said. “We had a lot of players see action and contribute to our effort.”
Senior Dareisha Sowell, who paced AJ with 22, scored 12 in the opening half. Elizabeth Scott tallied 11, nine before the break.
Brantley Ussery finished with 12, nine in the second half.
The Lady Vols, who are 5-1, owned a 58-27 spread after three periods and stayed on top.
“This is a good way to go into the break on a positive note,” Farmer said. “It gives our team something to build on with a boost of momentum with two good wins this week.”
Summer Vick hit seven and McKenzie Horton had six. Marketta McIlwain scored four. Hailley Burton and Lauren Rowell added two points each. Anslee McDow and Ananda Cloud supplied one point each.
North Central was led by Morgan Bass, who hit 14 points.
In the boys game, AJ appeared on the verge of a road win, but those hopes fizzled as the Vols went cold and the Knights ignited on a pivotal 18-0 run to open the final period.
AJ, up 36-31 at the half, held a 53-48 lead with a period to play, but it didn’t last.
The Knights used an 18-0 surge to notch a 66-53 lead.
North Central’s William Jenkins, who hit 16 points – 13 in the second half, aided the Knights’ run with seven points. Kwan Hough, who led NC with 21, 14 in the first half, supplied four to the Knights’ surge.
AJ’s Corey Walters drilled a trey to slice the NC lead to 10, 66-56, with 3:31 left.
From that point, the closest AJ came was the final margin.
“We didn’t play four quarters tonight,” AJ coach Danny Wright said. “We had some foul trouble which hurt us. We also gave them too many second-chance shots and didn’t rebound well.
“We need to keep our heads up and keep working hard,” he said.
Dustin Eddins led AJ with 24 points, 14 in the first half. Gervais Canty hit 13 and Corey Walters had 11. Austin Truesdale scored seven and Tray King added five.
Austin McIsaac netted three and Luke Sowell had two.
Lamont Frazier scored 11 and Banyon Sullivan added 10 for the Knights.
AJ is idle to Friday, Dec. 27 when the Vols host the annual Comporium Christmas Classic. Play each day begins at 3 p.m.
The two-day boys field includes Great Falls, Chester, Parkwood and host AJ.
The girls’ field includes North Central, Buford, Parkwood and AJ.
Play on Dec. 27 opens at 3 p.m. when Buford faces Parkwood of Union County, N.C..
The 4:30 p.m. game has Chester facing Parkwood. At 6, the AJ girls will battle North Central.
The opening round action closes with the AJ boys meeting Great Falls at 7:30.
Play on Saturday, Dec. 28 has the girls consolation game at 3 p.m., with the boys consolation game at 4:30. The girls title game is at 6, with the boys championship game to tip off at 7:30.