LEWISBURG — Payten Laird scored a late and-one basket to propel the National Trail Blazers over the Tri-County North Panthers on Saturday, Feb. 6, 33-30.
National Trail led nearly the entire game but held off a furious second half rally by the hosting Panthers.
“I thought we played well defensively for three quarters, but we kind of let down in the fourth quarter and allowed 14 points,” head coach Troy Ferguson said of the game.
Laird scored eight points in the game but five of her points came when the team needed her the most. The junior scored five points in the closing minutes to help fend of the feisty Panther squad looking for their second win.
Laird’s and the Blazers’ final and decisive bucket came when freshman Gracie Jones drove the lane to set Laird up for the layup.
While Laird had the late game heroics, it was JaLynn and Evan Byrd who provided consistent offense throughout the game.
Sophomore J. Byrd scored 11 points to lead the Blazers in scoring, while freshman E. Byrd scored seven points, grabbed eight rebounds, recorded four steals and dished out three assists in the contest.
Bri Dillow also had a solid game, scoring four points and dishing out four assists. Miranda Mize scored three points and grabbed three rebounds in her final regular season game.
“I really thought our guards did a good job defensively, especially in the first half,” Ferguson said, but said he wanted his team to attack more. “Because of our passiveness against the zone, we struggled making shots, settling for a lot of jump shots, and only shot 23 percent.”
Ferguson said all that matters though was closing the season with a win. “It was nice to get a win — an ugly win is better than a pretty loss, we say.”
The Blazers finish the season 6-16 and 4-8 in the Cross County Conference. They play Versailles in the opening round of the tournament on Saturday, Feb 13, at Franklin Monroe. Tip-off is at 2 p.m.