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By Marlana Smith
It was a commanding performance.
Caroline Linberger scored a game-high 31 points while Ava Williams poured in 29 as North Shelby won the Class 1 sectional game against host Meadville 73-44 on Wednesday, March 3.
“I am so proud of these girls for executing the game plan,” North Shelby head coach Landon Daniel said. “We knew if we could get the ball to the post, those two could score.
“And man, did both of those girls show up,” Daniel said.
Linberger claimed 11 of 15 points NS (18-5) had in the first quarter. Meadville had one field goal. Mallory Dennis scored all six points Lady Eagles’ points. She went four-for-four from the free-throw line.
“Defensively, we made them uncomfortable. Made them stretch out further than they wanted to. They can shoot from deep, but they were really deep. The girls executed tremendously on that end of the floor too,” Daniel added.
North Shelby went on a 10-0 run to start the second period. The Lady Raiders took a 25-6 advantage.
Ending the first half, North Shelby maintained a 38-22 lead.
Lilly Cook dished out 10 of North Shelby’s 23 assists. NS dominated Meadville on the defensive glass with 28 rebounds. Cook grabbed seven and while Williams had six.
North Shelby’s Ceairra Kirby put forth another admirable defensive effort with six steals.
North Shelby went 15-18 from the free-throw line.
Each school was allowed 425 tickets. The community showed up to support the Lady Raiders.
“I’m glad the girls finally got to experience that atmosphere. In the playoffs, that’s what it should be. We should be able to feel that atmosphere … Lady Raiders basketball is back,” Daniel added.
During the second half, Williams and Linberger continued to control the game. They were the only Lady Raiders to score in the third quarter.
North Shelby’s Lalaine Treasure made a three-point play with under four minutes left in the game.
Williams had two three-point plays in the final period.
“Our energy, effort and enthusiasm, I know I say those words all the time, but man it was awesome,” Daniel said.
The Lady Raiders will host No. 2 Leeton (21-4) on Saturday, March 6 at 1 p.m. in the Class 1 quarterfinals.
The winner will advance to the Show-Me Showdown at Missouri State University in Springfield.