Southeast Raleigh returns to state title game after beating Cary
The Southeast Raleigh Bulldogs are off to their third consecutive 4A state championship game after a 58-51 win over the Cary Imps.
Cary jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter, as the Imps got the first seven points of the game from the Key sisters.
The Bulldogs were able to bounce right back thanks to four straight from Kansas signee Tamia Davis and four more from Destini Abramson-Lee to trail just 9-8 late in the opening quarter.
But Teonni Key drew a blocking foul with under two seconds remaining in the quarter and converted both ends of the ensuing one-and-one to put Cary ahead by three through one.
The game changed in an instant when Tamari Key picked up her third foul of the contest just over a minute into the second quarter.
Unable to risk his best player picking up a fourth so early, Cary head coach Patrick Daly was forced to take her out.
“We knew going into it that she would be a big factor in the game,” Southeast Raleigh head coach Nicole Meyers said. “It’s not too often that you go up against six-five in the paint, so we really wanted to try to attack her and get her to sit as much as possible.”
In the elder Key’s absence, the Bulldogs were much more successful in their attempts to score from in-close and grab rebounds.
Trailing by four late in the quarter, Daly made the choice to put Key back in.
That choice paid off, as Key didn’t pick up a fourth and cut the Imps’ halftime deficit to two points with a bucket with less than 10 seconds to go.
The third quarter saw the game tighten up. With Southeast Raleigh ahead by one late in the quarter, Anya Poole was whistled for her fourth foul.
“We have depth,” Meyers said. “Even when Anya went out we were able to put in Morgan Graham and she held it down for a while. Makayla Harris stepped up big too defensively.”
Just 15 seconds after that whistle, Tamari Key was called for her fourth as well.
The Bulldogs got a late bucket from Maya Johnson to extend their lead to three entering the final quarter.
Cary was unable to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter, as Southeast took care of business from the free-throw line and hang on for the win.
With the win, Southeast Raleigh advanced to the 4A state championship game, where it will square off with with the winner between Butler and West Forsyth out of the West.
“We found a way to get key stops at key times and clutch baskets when we needed them,” Meyers said to summarize the win.