Without Destiny Burgess, Nash Central beat Southern Nash by 45 points three days ago.
With Burgess present in the Ladybirds’ lineup Monday, the Bulldogs needed everything – big games from two starters, an overtime and a little bit of luck – to beat Southern Nash for a fourth time this season. Nash Central survived a career-high 40 points from Burgess to escape with 66-62 victory in overtime of the first round of the Big East Conference Tournament at Rocky Mount High School.
“When you play the same team over and over, it’s hard to be prepared,” Nash Central coach Terri Cash said. “As many times as we say, ‘You gotta be ready. You gotta be ready,’ it’s not going to be the same.”
Fourth-seeded Nash Central (16-8) struggled to break down Southern Nash’s triangle-and-two defense in the first half, but started making shots in the third. Ni’Ya Styles scored 10 of her 24 points in the third quarter, including a step-back jumper as the buzzer sounded, as Nash Central went on a 9-0 run to end the quarter.
That’s when Burgess took over for the No. 5 Ladybirds (8-15). Burgess scored 14 in the fourth, including a jumper that gave Southern Nash a 50-49 lead with just more than three minutes remaining in regulation, but Styles hit a three on Nash Central’s next possession.
The Bulldogs led by three with the ball and 23.8 seconds to go, but turned over the ball twice in a row, including a throw-away right to Burgess that put the junior on the line, down one, with 2.1 seconds remaining.
Burgess made the first to tie the game at 54, but missed the second as the game went into overtime.
Burgess scored six more in overtime, but the Bulldogs were able to obtain a lead and protect it given another chance.
“She don’t count points, she just gets ’em, and that’s what we ask her to do,” Southern Nash coach Wayne Bryant said of Burgess.
Krystal Atkinson had a double-double of 16 points and had 15 rebounds for Nash Central.
Burgess had a double-double of her own, leading the Ladybirds with 11 rebounds.
Nash Central moves on the semifinals, where it will play No. 1 seed Northern Nash at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
No. 4 Nash Central 66
No. 5 Southern Nash 62
SN 7 15 13 19 8 – 62
NC 5 18 18 13 12 – 66
SN: Destiny Burgess (40 points); Tyreka Nicholson (13 points); Kadijah Kale, Christian Atkinson (4 points); Danyelle Noland (1 point).
NC: Ni’Ya Styles (24 points); Krystal Atkinson (16 points); Kathryn Wilkins (13 points); Myia Spivey (8 points); Deztanie Hill, Rebecca Speight (2 points); Michaela Nelms (1 point).
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz @rmtelegram.com