MILLERS CREEK — The East Wilkes Lady Cardinals were looking to round out their season with a win over North Wilkes in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference tournament championship on Friday night. The Cards did everything right, but North Wilkes came out looking for revenge over its loss to the Cardinals in December. The Vikings handed East Wilkes a second-place ending, as North Wilkes took home a 48-39 win.
The first period saw both teams come out strong on offense and defense. For most of the period, both teams would take a lead then the opposite team would tie the game on the next possession. East Wilkes took the first lead of the night as Alexis Pardue was fouled and made both of her free throws. From there, the back-and-forth started as North Wilkes scored, then East Wilkes scored.
North was able to take its first lead of the game as it hit a three-point shot to make the score 5-4. The lead didn’t last long as Lakyn Mathis drove to the basket to give the Cards a 6-5 lead. The rest of the first period saw three ties, and two lead changes. North had battled back to take a 13-12 lead at the end of the first.
In the opening minutes of the second period, North extended its lead with a three-point shot. The Cards knew they would have to change their tactics to keep up with North’s offensive pressure. Mathis found herself wide open on the lower key to take the score back to a one-point game.
Tess Jolly was fouled on the Cardinals’ next possession and tied the game 15-15 as she hit one of her free-throws. The two points from Mathis and the one point from Jolly would be the lone points from East Wilkes in the second period. North Wilkes outscored the Cards, 14-3, to take a 27-15 lead at halftime.
After halftime the Cardinals looked to change things up offensively and defensively as they went with a full court press and box coverage. The defense was able to stand strong and stop the Vikings from scoring.
On the other side of the court, North was able to hold off East for a few minutes, but the Cardinals found a way to exploit the Vikings’ defense. East went on a six-point run as Mathis and Alexis Pardue made the most of their shots. Although the Cards scored 10 points, the Vikings came away with 11 points to lengthen their lead, 38-25.
As the final eight minutes stood between one team and the championship, the Vikings held on as the Cardinals fell. East Wilkes tried to overcome the Vikings’ lead, but eight minutes was not enough time. At the end of the period, North Wilkes took home a 48-39 win.
The Cardinals were 9-17 at the free-throw line, and the Vikings were 9-18. Alexis Pardue had 12 points and Lakyn Mathis had 11.
The Cardinals (19-7) will have to wait to see what the future holds as the NCHSAA will release playoff seeding over the weekend. First-round action is set to begin this week across the state.