2021 Bennie Pollock Memorial

Lady Hawks take first tournament trophy since 2016

By DALLIN DURRETT
For the Record
Posted 11/24/21

Triton's girls basketball team held off a furious comeback to earn first place during the Bennie Pollock Championship game on Wednesday.

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2021 Bennie Pollock Memorial

Lady Hawks take first tournament trophy since 2016

Posted

ANGIER —  Triton held off a furious comeback by Western Harnett, 48-42, to earn first place on the girls' side of the Bennie Pollock Memorial Tournament Wednesday at Harnett Central High.

 The Lady Hawks (2-0) started off strong, having a 10-5 lead at the end of the first quarter. 

In the second quarter, Triton went on an 11-3 run in the last four minutes of the second quarter to take a 23-11 lead.

 Western (1-1) coach Mathew Smith told his team at halftime the game is not over yet.

 “I told the girls at halftime we have nothing to lose,” Smith said. 

The Lady Eagles responded in the third quarter by cutting the deficit to single digits thanks to senior guard Makenyia Mackey (who also made the all-tournament team) by making four of her six free throw attempts.

Mackey finished the game with 12 points.

After both teams traded baskets back and forth, Triton sophomore point guard A'Shari Watlington scored five straight points in the final minute of the quarter to extend the lead to 13 points. 

Watlington, who was named tournament MVP, finished the game with 17 points to lead the team.

A'Shari Watlington, right, won tournament MVP honors with a game-high 17 points.
A'Shari Watlington, right, won tournament MVP honors with a game-high 17 points.

 To begin the fourth quarter, Western Harnett scored nine unanswered points to trim the deficit to just four points, 36-32.

The Lady Eagles trailed by two points with four minutes left when Mackey fouled out.

On the next possession, Watlington provided a timely basket, hitting a huge 3-point shot to push Triton’s lead back to five.

“It was crazy, I knew I had to step up and be a leader on the court,” Watlington said.

 With Mackey on the bench, junior forward Maddie Burns helped get Western Harnett’s deficit back to only two points with a minute left. 

Burns finished with 12 points, 10 of them coming in the fourth quarter.

After a Triton timeout, Burns intentionally fouled junior guard Abby Hood (who also made the all-tournament team) with 41 seconds left to send her to the free-throw line for the opportunity to make it a two-possession game.

Hood missed both free throw attempts, but Triton was able to get an offensive rebound, and Hood was fouled once again with 35 seconds left.

 This time, she made both free throws to make it a two-possession game, 46-42.

Western Harnett had a chance to catch up on its next two possessions, but missed four free throw attempts after being fouled, essentially sealing the victory for the Lady Hawks.

 Triton head coach Richard Rozier was proud of how his team hung on for the win.

 “It took a lot of leadership, which paid off down the stretch,” Rozier said.

Triton stays on the road to play at Smithfield-Selma on Tuesday, Nov. 30. 

Western Harnett will go on the road to face Union Pines Wednesday, Dec. 1.

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