While the Orange and Cedar Ridge women’s basketball teams were several counties apart in the opening round of the 3A State Playoffs on Tuesday night, they both had their chances to win.

And both fell short in frustrating fashion.

Cedar Ridge, making the 3A State Playoffs for the first time since 2018, fell to Scotland County 56-42 in Laurinburg. The Red Wolves end the year 13-13, its best season since the 2017-2018 campaign when they were coached by Felton Page.

The Red Wolves led by four at halftime. Amiyah Ware, in her final game at Cedar Ridge, scored 18 points. Junior point guard Sarah Utley finished with 16 points and ten rebounds.

Fighting Scots junior Morgan Thompson finished with 25 points as Scotland County, the 9th-seed out of the Sandhills Conference, advanced to face Fike in the round of 32 in Wilson on Friday night.

Cedar Ridge led 37-33 at the end of the third quarter following a running-one hander from Utley. But Scotland opened up the 4th quarter with a 14-2 run to take control of the game. The Red Wolves shot just 24%.

The loss ended the careers of Ware, Cameron Copeland, Cierra Copeland, Addie Reid and Jordyan Delph. Reid has been a three-sport athlete at Cedar Ridge and won the 2021 3A State Championship in volleyball. Ware’s legacy will be remembered in the record books as she set the Orange County record for most points scored in a game when she registered 54 against Western Alamance last year. She is the only player in the history of Orange County to score 50 points twice in a season. She scored 51 against Durham School of the Arts just two weeks after the game against the Warriors.

Meanwhile in Rocky Mount, Orange struggled in the second half and fell 43-26. The Gyphons never trailed and advanced to the second round to face Big East Conference rival Franklinton on Friday night.

Rocky Mount’s Keysha Mizzell led all scorers with 15 points. ¬†She opened the game by scoring the opening five points, including a three-pointer. Orange’s Evelyn George countered with a 3-pointer, but the Lady Panthers would never get that close again. The Gryphons went on a 9-2 run, which Kaitlin White capped off with a 3-pointer to increase the lead to 14-5.

Orange closed the first half with a 7-0 run. Shannon Murphy started with a 3-pointer off a feed from George. In the final minute of the second quarter, George drained two free throws, then scored off a lay-in while getting fouled by Candrice Davis. Orange trailed 22-18 at the half.

Rocky Mount (19-6) shut out the Lady Panthers in the third quarter 19-0 using a full-court press that resulted in ten Orange turnovers. Not only was Orange unable to score. They barely got off any shots. Orange was only 0-for-3 in the third quarter and just 3-of-8 from the field in the entire second half. In all, the Lady Panthers committed 12 turnovers in the second half.

Rocky Mount’s Candrice Davis, who came out for White after she picked up her third foul, sparked the Gryphons with six points and three steals in the second half. In all, Rocky Mount had 17 steals compare to just eight for Orange.

26 points is a season-low for Orange.

George and Murphy led the Lady Panthers with seven points. Natalie Roberson had six points as Orange ended the year 13-13 under first-year head coach Lamont Jones. After Orange defeated Western Alamance and Walter Williams to open 2024, they were tied for first place in the Central Conference. But Cedar Ridge swept the season series from the Lady Panthers for the first time since the 2013-2014 season and was unable to regain the momentum to catch up with Western Alamance in the race for the conference championship.

It was the final game for Orange senior Lily Crayton.

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