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Sunshine wins area title at home

Sunshine claimed its spot atop Class 1A, Area 5 Saturday night with a 57-45 win over Linden in the finals of the the area tournament.

While the Lady Patriots surged slightly in the second half, they were unable to overcome the hole they had dug for themselves while sitting on the bad end of a suffocating Sunshine performance during the game’s first two quarters.

“We just couldn’t seem to get the ball on the inside,” Linden coach Teressa Thomas said. “They just kept putting pressure on the guards.”

That Sunshine pressure held Linden to a staggering two field goals in the first half, almost completely neutralizing the Lady Patriots’ big three of Kileema Rogers, Terrica Craig and Latice Glover. That threesome combined for 12 points in the first half, five of which came from Rogers while the other seven came from Craig at the free throw line.

“The plan was to take (Craig) away from the game,” Sunshine head coach Phillip Wagner said. “If she was going to get points, she was going to get them from the free throw line. Their team is built around (Craig). (Rogers) will give them some points, but (Craig) is the backbone of that team.”

After scoring 35 points against Sweet Water in the first round of the tournament, Craig was limited to just three field goals in the game Saturday, getting the bulk of her scoring from an 11-for-15 performance at the charity stripe. Craig was one of few Lady Patriots to find success at the stripe.

“We missed 15 free throws and we lost by 12,” Thomas said. “Do the math. We make our free throws we win by three.”

Craig’s contributions were nearly even more limited as the senior guard twisted her ankle with 16 seconds remaining in the first half and had to be helped off the floor.

“I tried to sit her down, but she refused to sit down,” Thomas said. “I admire her heart and her effort.”

For Sunshine, the offense did not flow as freely as it had in the team’s 83-point outburst against A.L. Johnson two nights earlier. The Lady Tigers landed only two players in double figures on the night. But the hot shooting of Shafontaye Myers accounted for the difference as the senior point guard and Alabama commit tossed in 39 points and 13 rebounds while grabbing tournament MVP honors. Johnquesha Childs added 10 points and seven rebounds for Sunshine.

Rogers led Linden with 20 points while Craig finished with 18.

The win moves Sunshine on to face Area 6 runner-up Holy Spirit Thursday night in Newbern. For Linden, the loss means that the sub-regional round will be a road game. The Lady Patriots travel to Akron Thursday night to face Area 6 champion Akron.