By Steve Keenan
SMITHERS — It wasn’t quite a gold-medal performance, but Valley coach Marshall Murray will settle for it. For now.
With a 46-36 conquest of Fayetteville Monday in the second round of the Class A Region 3, Section 1 girls basketball tournament at Valley High School, Murray’s squad did just enough to advance deeper in postseason play.
Despite a rather lackluster night that saw them shoot 17-of-65 from the field and 15-of-31 from the free throw line, as well as commit 19 turnovers and nearly squander a pair of nine-point leads with five minutes left, the Greyhounds had enough in the tank to get past the Pirates for the second time this season.
“Our shooting was atrocious, and we weren’t being patient and getting what we wanted (on the offensive end),” said Murray. “And we missed defensive assignments.
“I wasn’t happy with the effort we gave.”
Valley claimed leads of 32-23 and 33-24 in the early stages of the final period, then scrappy Fayetteville began to inch closer. Jessica Brown hit a free throw, Kara Evans canned two freebies, and Beth Murphy scored on a lay-in to make it 33-29 at the 3:32 mark.
Valley eventually pushed the cushion back out to eight, 39-31, on consecutive putbacks from Bre’onna Newkirk and Alexis Payne, but the Pirates kept fighting.
Evans netted a deuce, and Fayetteville’s Shandi Myles pulled her team to within three, 39-36, on an uncontested three-pointer with 32.2 seconds left.
But Valley got some timely free throws down the stretch to hold the Pirates at bay.
Harley Abbott and Newkirk each sank one charity toss, then teammate Danielle Grubb contributed two more off an offensive rebound to push the margin to 43-36 with 18.1 ticks left. Abbott then closed the deal with a long three-pointer at the buzzer.
Valley won the game with its interior play, both coaches felt.
“Valley’s a talented, physical team,” said Fayetteville coach John Mark Kincaid. “The officials let both teams play, and we couldn’t keep them off our backs. They were too big, physical.
“Our effort was good, and our kids played hard. We knew we’d have our hands full.”
“They played hard,” Murray said of the Pirates, who finished 10-7. “That was our plan, to work the inside. “They did a good job in the first half (a 21-20 Valley lead) when they doubled down on us, but I think they were a little tired (in the second half).”
Payne finished with 14 points and Newkirk had 10 for Valley (10-4).
Murphy collected 11 points and Myles nine for the Pirates, who scored just three points in the third period and turned the ball over 34 times on the night.
The Greyhounds, the No. 2 seed, move on to play at No. 1 seed Pocahontas County, which vanquished Midland Trail 78-44 last night. The game will tip at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Valley 46, Fayetteville 36
Amy Holly 0 0-0 0, Shandi Myles 3 2-4 9, Beth Murphy 5 0-1 11, Jessica Brown 1 2-6 4, Kara Evans 2 4-6 8, Hannah Mitchell 1 1-3 3, Courtney Smith 0 1-4 1, Erica Hogan 0 0-0 0, Bryana Christian 0 0-0 0, Taren Bone 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 10-24 36.
Harley Abbott 1 2-6 5, Alexis Payne 3 8-12 14, Bobbi Dyer 4 1-1 9, Bre’onna Newkirk 4 2-6 10, Lashea Edmonds 3 0-2 6, Danielle Grubb 0 2-4 2, Kasi Riddle 0 0-0 0, Cassie Jenkins 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 15-31 46.
F 10 10 3 13 — 36
V 10 11 7 18 — 46
Three-point goals: F: 2 (Myles, Murphy); V: 1 (Abbott); Fouled out: F: Brown, Holly; V: Edmonds.