By Matt Laws
Special to the sun
ROAN MOUNTAIN - For the second part of the fourth quarter on Friday night, it looked like deja vu for the No. 8 North Greene Lady Huskies against Cloudland.
However, Mendy McNeese and company weren't going to let other late lead slip away.
McNeese scored seven of the nine North Greene points in overtime to propel the Lady Huskies to a 51-47 victory over the Lady 'Landers to avenge their early-season loss at home to Cloudland.
In the boys game, Cloudland ran out to an early lead and never looked back as they ran to a 72-27 conference victory over North Greene.
For North Greene girls' coach James Buchanan, it was like watching a replay, especially when it came to the play of Cloudland's Brooke Rhodes and Courtney Wilson in the post, but he was pleased with his team's fight for the win.
"We played them down at our place and it was the same thing again," Buchanan said. "We can't guard them inside as those post players are really good. We were fortunate that they missed some shots late, but I do like the resilience. We were ahead, got down and still battled back and got the win."
While Cloudland (5-1 district, 16-10 overall) may have won the battle in the paint, it was North Greene that won the game around the arc, and that was exactly the plan.
"The way they play that matchup zone, they always have Rhodes and Wilson hanging around the paint," Buchanan said. "We wanted to spread them out and make them come out. If we made some shots, we knew we might be able to do that. Fortunately, early we did, but late we did not. It came down to where we had to make some free throws and be a little more aggressive in the second half."
The Lady Huskies (4-3, 20-7) ended the game with eight made 3-pointers.
McNeese finished with 16 points, while Laiken Morrow and Dariane Bailey had 11 points apiece. Morrow finished with a team-high seven rebounds despite getting in early foul trouble.
"Laiken played the last three minutes and all of overtime with four fouls," Buchanan said. "I don't think she did very good defensively in that stretch, but we had to have her in the game, and she was able to hang around for us."
Marrow and Bailey scored six and five points, respectively, in the first quarter to counter four points from Cloudland's Rhodes and shoot NG to a 14-9 lead at the end of the frame.
Cloudland trimmed the gap to four points to start the second. However, the Lady Huskies, who saw Marrow sit for the final three-plus minutes of the half with two fouls, traded shots with the Lady 'Landers to hold a 25-18 lead at the half.
The third quarter saw Rhodes score four of the six Cloudland points to trim the NG lead to 30-24, and the Lady 'Landers used a Madison Wilson jumper to complete the rally and tie the game at 35 with four minutes left to play.
The final two minutes of the game saw the teams swap the lead three times as Marrow and McNeese each hit a 3-pointer to put NG up, but Cloudland's Madison Wilson tied the game with a jumper with 41 seconds left. The Lady Huskies had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Rhodes recorded her fourth block of the game with eight seconds on the clock to force overtime.
In the extra period, Cloudland jumped out to a four point lead, but McNeese scored five straight points to put North Greene up 47-46. After Cloudland tied the game with a free throw, Bailey and McNeese added a pair of free throws apiece in the final minute to send the Lady Huskies to the victory.
"It is good for the psyche because no one had beat this team yet in our league this year," Buchanan said. "Just getting a win over them helps us understand it is possible if you go out and work hard."
The boys game saw Cloudland run out to a 14-2 lead and never looked back.
Tanner Collins led the way with 10 points. Trey Hall had four points, while Taylor Bailey and Brent Pollock had three points apiece.
Both North Greene squads return to action on Tuesday, Feb. 5, as they travel to conference foe Hampton.