Porter Ridge girls back in third round
The girls basketball program at Porter Ridge High has become a model of success.
The Pirates advanced to the third round of the 4A playoffs for the third straight year with Wednesday's 68-54 home win over McDowell.
Porter Ridge, now 24-3 on the season, has won 24 games for the fifth year in a row.
The 14-point differential is misleading because the Pirates had to work for it.
McDowell (17-10) scored five unanswered points in the first minute of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 46.
But that's when Jasmine Huntley took over.
Huntley, a 5-3 point guard and a four-year starter, entered the fourth quarter with two points but finished with 15. Her 3-pointer from the left wing broke the tie and gave Porter Ridge the lead for good. She followed with a pair of free throws to push PR's lead back to five at 51-46.
Huntley made 10-of-12 free throws in the fourth, and her team converted 15-of-18 at the line in the final quarter.
"We had to make our foul shots or it would probably would have ended up a two-point game," said ina Thompson, who has been Porter Ridge's coach since the school opened eight years ago. "We couldn't stop them. They went right down the court and scored three times in a row.
"Jasmine struggled earlier in the game but she really came through for us when the game was on the line."
McDowell opened the game with a 14-7 lead, but Porter Ridge scored the last seven points of the first quarter. Jade Jones grabbed a long rebound with two seconds left in the quarter and made a 12-footer as the buzzer sounded to tie the game at 14.
Porter Ridge jumped out to a 24-18 lead in the second quarter before the Titans rallied to take a 30-29 advantage into halftime.
Pirates senior forward Justice McKinney had six points and nine rebounds in the first half. McKinney, a 5-6 forward, finished with a game-high 15 rebounds and 10 points.
The lead changed hands five times in the third quarter, but Jada Huntley's stellar play helped Porter Ridge take a five-point lead. Jada Huntley had 10 of her game-high 19 points in third quarter, including two 3-pointers, and also contributed nine rebounds.
"Jada was great in the third quarter and we really needed it," Thompson said. "They were disrupting our offense and we were really struggling to get good shots. McDowell is a very good team. We really gutted this one out.
Porter Ridge had four players score in double digits, including junior guard Jade Jones, who finished with 14 points, five assists and three steals off the bench.
The Pirates will play at home against Alexander Central in the third round on Friday.