After a year absence, the Ashville Lady Bulldogs are headed back to the Northeast Regional Tournament at Jacksonville State University.
Ashville (27-3) plays Pisgah (21-7) Thursday at noon at Pete Mathews Coliseum.
Ashville defeated White Plains with ease last week, 79-43, in sub-regional action to get to regionals.
School administrators and fans helped make the victory extra special for Coach Dale Beason, helping him in his wheelchair into a lift after the game so he could cut the net down from one of the goals.
Because Beason is confined to a wheelchair, he has never cut down a net after his teams have won various tournaments through the years.
“The last time I cut down a net was in 1983 or ’84 when I played basketball for Ashville,” Beason said.
In the first minute of the game against White Plains, Ashville grabbed a 5-0 lead. The Lady Bulldogs stretched it to 9-2 with 5:30 left. Nikki Moss nailed a trey with 4:40 remaining in the quarter to make it 14-2.
Trailing 16-2, White Plains ended the quarter on a 6-0 run to make it 16-8 after one quarter of play.
The Lady Bulldogs opened the second quarter on an 8-0 run to make the score 24-8 with 5:25 left in the first half.
By halftime, the score was 36-20.
The second half was much like the first. Ashville led 56-27 after three quarters of play. With 5:05 left, Ashville had doubled up White Plains 66-33. The final score was 79-43. It was the most points the Ashville girls had scored in one game this season.
Five Ashville players scored in double figures, and leading the way was Autumn Swearengin with 15 points. Close behind her was Lakeivia Looney with 14 points. Anika Bothwell and Nikki Moss pumped in 13 points each and Mollie Huff added 11 points. Erieanna Gilbert scored five points while Tori Williams and Hannah Ashley netted four points each.
“I am so excited to see this group of seniors accomplish what they have in order to get back to the Northeast Regional Tournament,” Beason said. “Two years ago, they were sophomores and did not get a chance to play at JSU. Most of them were on the B-team when the season started.”
Beason said the win over White Plains was great, and up to this point, the best the girls have played all season.
“They are focused and ready for the next game,” he said.
As for being able to cut down the net after the victory, Beason said it meant a lot to him.
“I know Coach Jeff Hardy was instrumental in organizing it,” Beason said. “I appreciate the fact that so many people stood around in the gym to watch. It’s a night I will always remember.”