Red Hawks’ season ended at hands of Hurricanes

Red Hawks’ season ended at hands of Hurricanes

KINSTON, N.C. — The Catawba Valley Community College women's basketball team record-setting season came to an abrupt end on Friday with a 74-69 loss to Louisburg in the Region X tournament semifinals.

The Red Hawks finish their season with a 26-6 overall record.

"It's been a glorious season. I can't ask for anything better," said CVCC women's basketball head coach Tisha England. "The girls gave me their heart, and that's what they've been giving me all year long. When I went into the locker room to hear the cries and the pain, I saw myself as a former student-athlete. I know that cry and pain. All year, we've just been taking one step at a time, trusting the process and saying 'we've got to get there.' Today, we were short a little in some areas. We kind of got out scored and out rebounded in some areas, but our girls laid it all on the line."

Shaniya Lester scored 24 points to lead Catawba Valley in the tournament semifinal, while forward Joyous Wilson tied her career high in scoring with 18 points. It was the third game this season that Wilson had scored 18 points in a contest.

The Red Hawks led through most of the first quarter of Friday's game, but a four-point play to end the quarter by Kaila Thompson gave the Hurricanes a 17-15 lead after one stanza.

Lester would power Catawba Valley back and into a double-digit lead by halftime. The sophomore guard from Charlotte, N.C. scored 17 points and added four rebounds, four assists and three steals in the first half, helping CVCC earn a 40-29 advantage at the halftime break.

The Hurricanes regrouped in the locker room and responded by outscoring the Red Hawks 23-13 in the third quarter to pull within 53-52. A second buzzer beater by Louisburg ended the quarter — this time by the Hurricanes' Amecca McCalin.

Teana Lewis led the way for Louisburg in the third quarter, scoring six points, and teammates Shontai Totten and Laichelle Sparrow added five points apiece.

In late four trouble and struggling offensively without sophomore guard Tory Agrusa, who was out with an injured right ankle suffered in Thursday's first-round win against Fayetteville Tech, the Red Hawks traded the lead back and forth with the Hurricanes four times before Louisburg was able to gain the advantage late and hold on for the five-point victory.

Friday's game was the final in the careers of five CVCC sophomores — Nikkyana McCaskill, Tanisha Wall, Lester, Wilson and Agrusa.

All five athletes have a special place in England's heart.

"These five young ladies trusted me from the beginning," England said. "They all had a scholarship their freshman year. They could have went to a four-year school, but they decided to come back because they were chasing something. They wanted to get better. They wanted to be better student athletes, and they have. They have given their all in the classroom, they have given their all on the court and they made history. They will forever be remembered in my heart as well as the CVCC Lady Red Hawks of this year 2017-18 class.

"They mean so much to me," she added. "They are like my kids. We are able to laugh, talk, be disciplined, corrected and then love on each other. I will always be a part of them, and they will always be a part of me. I will follow them wherever they go."

Friday's game was the 32nd played by the CVCC women's basketball program — another record on top of what was a record-setting season.

"I'm looking forward to another successful year next year," England said. "It doesn't stop. The Red Hawks are on the map. I'm grateful to be a part of that."