All heart: Shorthanded Lady Raiders fight to the finish

Dave Ongie • Feb 15, 2007 at 11:30 AM

GREENEVILLE - Heart isn't measured on the stat sheet and courage isn't counted on the scoreboard. If they were, Sullivan North would have easily advanced to the semifinals of the District 1-AA girls basketball tournament.

With one starter dismissed from the squad and another in the hospital in critical condition, the eight remaining Lady Raiders took to the floor at South Greene on Thursday night and ended up on the short end of a 76-26 decision.

The Lady Rebels advanced to the semifinals of the district tournament while the loss marked the end of the season for the Lady Raiders.

But as far as North coach Lloyd Griffin was concerned, his players were already winners the moment they walked into the gym.

"I'm real proud of them," Griffin said. "We did all that we could do."

Emotions were running high for the Lady Raiders with Merissa Williams in critical condition following a traffic accident Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, the dismissal of star center Keisha Day last Friday left North with even less firepower and little chance of beating the top-seeded Lady Rebels.

But, with tears in their eyes following a moment of silence, North's players took the floor and fought tooth-and-nail for four quarters.

"We were bawling before the game, we were bawling at halftime and we were bawling after the game," Griffin said.

"But they showed a lot of heart."

He said the decision to play came after visiting with Williams and her family Thursday afternoon.

"Her dad said to go out and play, that Merissa would want it that way," Griffin said.

South Greene led 20-4 after the first quarter and extended its lead to 24 points at halftime.

Despite the emotions of the day, North continued to scratch and claw in the second half even as South Greene's lead ballooned to 50.

With 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter, half of North's players had fouled out - leaving only four Lady Raiders on the court to play against South Greene's five. And despite a 50-point advantage on the scoreboard and a 5-to-4 edge on the floor, the Lady Rebels maintained full-court pressure.

South Greene coach Amy Hawk told Griffin that she didn't instruct her reserves on the floor to press in the final moments, but Griffin didn't seem satisfied with the explanation.

"For them to press us up 50, that was bull," he said.

Megan Clevenger led South Greene (23-6) with a game-high 26 points, Brandi Crum came off the bench to add 13 and Brittney Crum pitched in with 10 for the Lady Rebels.

Stephanie Crook came off the bench to lead North (4-25) with 11 points while Amelia Bush added seven.

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