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Sunshine takes area championship

NEWBERN — Sunshine put up 37 points in the second half Saturday night to stake its claim to the AHSAA Class 1A, Area 5 championship with a 65-43 win over Linden.

The Lady Patriots kept the game close early before SHS junior Shafontaye Myers dropped in a pair of free throws to break a tie and spark an 8-0 Sunshine run in the second quarter.

Linden fought its way back into the game minutes later with a 5-0 run of its own to cut the deficit to 21-18 with 2:06 remaining in the first half.

Sunshine answered in kind, holding LHS to just one point over the next two minutes to carry a 28-19 lead into the half.

In the second half, the Lady Tigers turned their attention to pressure defense.

“We did a good job in the press,” Sunshine head coach Phillip Wagner said. “I knew if we could keep pressure on them, sooner or later they would make some mistakes.”

The Green and Gold Girls opened up a 16-point advantage by the end of the third quarter and cruised through the game’s final period for the victory.

“We just didn’t shoot well and we didn’t rebound,” Linden head coach Andro Williams said. “We’ve got to learn to handle the adversity when it hits us.”

While he was pleased with the victory, Wagner was dissatisfied with his team’s offensive output in the second half.

“We shot the ball well the first half,” Wagner said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well the second half.”

Myers led the Lady Tigers with 23 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists and five steals in the contest, frequently drawing a rise from the home fans with circus-like no-look passes in transition.

After the game, Wagner focused on the effort of the players around Myers.

“Marie (McMillian), Shan (Carter) and (Lacresha) Rainer played a heck of a ball game, as well as Tia (Scott),” Wagner said.

McMillian finished the night with 10 points while Deborah Lewis put in 14 for Sunshine.

Kristi Lloyd led Linden with 14 points while Meagin Hinton added eight.

“We can help ourselves down the road,” Williams said of his team, which will travel to Area 6 champion Akron for the first round of sub-regional play Thursday. “We’re going to work on us. We’ve got to take care of us and that is blocking out and rebounding.”

After the game, Williams was also complementary of the effort of point guard Terrica Craig, who continued to apply pressure and make plays throughout the game despite the lopsided score.

“If everybody is on the same page and everybody is playing with the mentality and the effort she is, that helps us.”

Sunshine will host Area 6 runner-up Billingsley Thursday in sub-regional action.

“We won the area and our next goal is to win the region and state,” Wagner, who won a state title as the head coach of the 1999 Sunshine girls, said. “I keep telling this team they are more talented than the 99 team that won the state.”

Both sub-regional games are scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip-off.