Magical, inspirational seasons end

By Rhonda Byrd | Mar 10, 2014
Photo by: Kelly Boone

GREENSBORO — The 2013-14 high school basketball season for the Pisgah varsity girls and boys can be summed up it two words — magical and inspirational.

Like all sports seasons — they end. Unfortunately for both the Pisgah boys and the  girls, their magical and inspirational seasons ended in Greensboro and not Chapel Hill.

In Saturday afternoon’s NCHSAA Class 3-A West girls championship game at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center, Pisgah fell to Hickory, 63-57.

Several hours later on the same court in the NCHSAA Class 3-A West boys semifinal game, the ice cold weather outside affected the Black Bears’ shooting inside as Pisgah was handed a lopsided 81-47 defeat by North Forsyth.

The loss by the Pisgah girls, which finished 28-2, prevented a return visit for another shot at a state championship.

Despite no state championship trophy, two Black Bears still will leave a mark on the program, which is considered to be one of the elite girls’ programs in the state.

Seniors Sheridan Pressley and Mariah Lewis played four years on the varsity and together were responsible for 99 wins during that span.

Lewis also set two school rebounding records with 283 this season and 897 for a career.

Pressley leaves a legacy of 1,670 points scored for her career. She finished 40 points shy of tying Leslie Young’s school record of 1,710 points.

But both seniors would have traded their personal records for a win tonight against Hickory, which goes to the state championship with 30-0 record.

The first half belong to the Black Bears, which led 36-27 at halftime.

But the second half belong to the Red Tornadoes.

“In the first half, we were able to break their press and crashed the boards well,” said Pisga Head Coach Brandon Holloway. “However, in the second half, Hickory changed up its defense and we did not adjust well to it. We were hesitating and standing around. But I am still proud of them and my girls do not need to hang their heads. It still was a great season.”

Four Pisgah turnovers sparked a Hickory 8-0 run midway through the third quarter and the Black Bears could not regain the lost momentum and trailed 46-45 going into the final eight minutes.

Twice in the fourth quarter, Pisgah recaptured the lead, 53-52 and 57-55. But with 1:30 left in regulation, Yazman Hannah cashed in a trey to give Hickory a 58-57 lead to start a 9-0 run to end the game — and the Pisgah girls magical and inspirational season.

Sophomore Brooklyn Allen finished with a team-high 24 points, while Lewis had 10 and Pressley chipped in eight.

Allen, Pressley and Lewis were named to the 3-A West All-Regional Girls Tournament team, while Hannah, who finished with a game-high of 30 points, was named the most valuable player.

The Pisgah boys’ surprising ride to the regional was fueled solely on inspiration from head coach Casey Kruk and his personal fight against cancer.

Through the first three tournament games, everything went the Black Bears’ way; but nothing went their way in the regional semifinal, including their reliable three-point shooting.

The Black Bears were 2-of-22 from beyond the arc and only shot 25 percent (14-of-56) inside the arc.

On the other hand, North Forsyth was 4-of-14 (28.6 perent)  but finished 54.3 percent inside the three-point line.

The Vikings led 38-21 at the half and the game went south for Pisgah in the second half.

“You couldn’t ask any more from this bunch,” said Kruk, who was emotional after the game. “It just wasn’t our night shooting the ball. I’m proud of them. It was an amazing season.”

Anderson led Pisgah, which finished 28-3 overall, with 18 points. He also joined the Black Bears’ elite 1,000 Point Club late this season.

“This season has been an inspiration to all of us,” said senior Jesse Anderson. “The wins were never as important to us than the health of our coach. While he was not well enough at times to be at the game, he was always on the bench, cheering us on, coaching us and inspiring us.”

“What a magical season,” said senior McKinley Brown. “I can’t think of a better way to describe this season than magical.”

Junior Cole Anderson had 13 points for Pisgah, while sophomore Peyton Truesdale had five.

“Magical is a good way to describe this season,” said senior Hunter Wike. “But I think it was also inspiring. Seeing coach fight through his battle with cancer inspires me to be a better man.”