The O’Neal Middle School girls basketball team culminated their historic season in dramatic fashion, having recently outlasted Fayetteville Christian School 22-20, claiming the school’s first-ever middle school girls basketball conference tournament championship.
The tournament championship game marked a rematch from the prior week’s game that saw Fayetteville Christian pull out a hard-fought 9-point game. However, this time around, the Falcons had a different result in mind.
From the opening tip, the game’s pace, scrappiness, and intensity set the stage for a nail-biting championship match-up. Both teams charged out of the gate with defensive intensity, leading to a low-scoring first quarter as Fayetteville Christian held on to a slim 3-2 lead.
As the players’ nerves began to settle in the second quarter, the Falcons started to find success on the offensive end. A combination of high-paced transition offense and strong post play pushed the Falcons ahead 8-6 for their first lead of the game with three minutes to go in the second quarter.
For the final three minutes of the quarter, the Falcons cranked up the defensive intensity, only allowing the Warriors to score one point. The Falcons headed into halftime with a 12-7 lead.
The second half continued the tough defensive play from both teams as the Falcon hung on to a 15-13 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Down the stretch, dominating guard play and poise at the free through line sealed the deal for the Falcons winning 22-20 to clinch the SEMSAC Tournament Championship.
“I am beyond proud of this group of exceptional young ladies,” reflected Head Coach Charlie McHarney. “When we started this journey back in early November, I could not have scripted a more perfect ending. All season, these 14 young ladies displayed a commitment to one another at a level that rivals the best teams I have either coached or been a member of.”
The Falcons ended the season with a 9-3 record overall and finishing as the SEMSAC regular-season runners-up and SEMSAC tournament champions.
Written by Sandhills Sentinel contributor Lulu Brase.