BAILEY – Southern Nash’s girls promised coach Wayne Bryant they would douse him with water if they ever beat Rocky Mount High.
The Ladybirds beat the Gryphons on Tuesday, but Bryant had a wild card: He still could threaten them with wind sprints at practice.
So the Ladybirds upset another team, and as promised, chased their coach out of the postgame locker room and drenched him with water bottles after defeating Nash Central, 49-46, on Friday at Southern Nash High School.
“When we beat Rocky Mount, we tried to get him then, but he threatened us with some suicides,” said Southern Nash guard Khadijah Manning, who scored a game-high 22 points. “So we were like, ‘We’re going to wait until the last game. That’s when we’ll get him.’”
Southern Nash (6-15, 2-8 Big East) had nothing at stake in its final two regular season games, yet it played at its best.
The Ladybirds forced Nash Central (12-7, 5-5) into 4-for-31 shooting in the first half, and took a 25-11 lead into halftime.
Southern Nash, which never trailed, was able to maintain the lead to earn the victory.
“The last two games, we’ve played four quarters,” Bryant said. “We’ve lost close games because we had one quarter where we go to sleep. We knew they’d score; it was a matter of us scoring.”
Ni’Ya Styles scored 15 of her 21 points in the second half to help lead the Bulldogs’ comeback, which came too late to change the outcome.
The Ladybirds will play Rocky Mount in the first round of the Big East Tournament, while Nash Central will wait for the winner.
“The story is the first half,” Nash Central coach Terri Cash said. “You can’t go 4-for-31 and win that way.”
Nash Central 48, Southern Nash 40
Nash Central locked up Southern Nash in the fourth quarter, and with it, locked up the No. 3 seed in the Big East.
The Bulldogs held the Firebirds to two field goals in the final quarter.
“You never want to back into the playoffs, you want a game with a lot of excitement and a win,” Nash Central coach Renny Taylor said. “Getting a win was hugely important for us.”
Nathaniel Pittman scored 12 of his game-high 19 points in the second half for the Bulldogs (11-8, 6-4), who will play No. 6 Wilson Fike in the first round of the Big East Tournament.
Southern Nash (3-18, 2-8) struggled scoring points, just as it has all season.
The No. 5 Firebirds will meet Northern Nash for the fourth time this season in the first round. The Knights have won the first three.
“It’s hard to win a ball game when you only score 40 points,” Southern Nash coach Robbie Kennedy said. “It puts an awful lot of pressure on your defense, and that has been our problem all year long.”
Southern Nash 49
Nash Central 46
NC 3 8 11 24 – 46
SN 10 15 10 14 – 49
NC: Ni’Ya Styles (21 points); Kathryn Wilkins (12 points); Krystal Atkinson (8 points); Jalynn Westry, Brittani Strickland (2 points); Kiana Thomas (1 point).
SN: Khadijah Manning (22 points); Destiny Burgess, Tyreka Nicholson (9 points); Danyelle Noland (3 points); Christan Atkinson, Kadijah Kale, Asia High (2 points).
Nash Central 48
Southern Nash 40
NC 5 15 15 13 – 48
SN 9 12 12 7 – 40
NC: Nathaniel Pittman (19 points); Jaquan Wilkins (16 points); Daniel Pittman (6 points); L.J. Porcher (4 points); Wendell Hunter (2 points); Tyler Hale (1 point).
SN: Desmon Jackson (11 points); Chi-Ali Bunn (7 points); Aaron Ware (6 points); Richard Hall (5 points); Marques Wright (4 points); Aaron Newkirk (3 points); Tahj Deans, Deon Lavender (2 points).
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz@ rmtelegram.com