Laurel and Winters Mill engaged in a second-half battle for the lead.
It was the opening game for both teams in the Winters Mill Holiday Classic on Thursday.
The Spartans, who led the way through the first half, lost their lead early in the third quarter, thanks to 3-pointers from Winters Mill guards Natalie Berry and Allie Cullison. They found themselves trailing again in the fourth frame after WM’s Kolby Brown scored to give the Falcons a 51-49 lead.
The Spartans continued to find a way, however, and outlasted the Falcons 58-53.
Berry scored a team-high 12 points, six came from 3-pointers, and Tamyra Simmons notched 11 for the Falcons (1-4). Brown pulled down nine rebounds and three assists and McKenzie Zepp notched six boards.
Laurel opened up a 5-0 run midway through the first quarter and the Spartans were capitalizing on Falcons’ turnovers. Winters Mill found optimal scoring chances, but came up short on a number of occasions in an attempt to erase a 10-point deficit by the end of the frame.
Spartans senior guard Sydney Woodland scored 10 of her 21 points in the first quarter alone — seven came one after the other. The Spartans used rebounds to their advantage and transitioned quickly to offense.
The Falcons picked up the pace, however, and started to make connections. Falcons sophomore forward Riley Morano converted a layup to spark a 6-0 scoring run, thanks to a steal from Zepp to get the Falcons back on the offensive end.
Woodland’s layup and a pair of free throws put the Spartans up 21-13 with just over two minutes to go in the quarter. Winters Mill senior guard Erin Snyder called for the ball and Brown handed it over, just in time for Snyder to pinpoint a 3-point shot to trim the Falcons’ deficit by six.
A 3 from Timmons helped the Falcons get closer to the Spartans, but the visiting team hung on to a 28-25 lead at the break.
The Spartans managed to regain their lead after losing it early in the third quarter and they carried a 47-38 edge over Winters Mill into the final quarter. Marissa Steel, a sophomore forward, scored all 15 of her points in the second half for the Spartans, nine in the third quarter alone.
Cullison went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the fourth frame to give the Falcons another edge, followed shortly by Brown’s 3. Steel scored eight straight points for the Spartans to put them up 55-53 — Destiny Barber and Woodland finished out the game with free throws.
Laurel (58): Nyla Thomas 6, Sydney Woodland 21, Celena Major 2, Malaika Treadwell 5, Destiny Barber 4, Marissa Steel 15.
Winters Mill (53): Erin Snyder 5, Madison Harmening 3, Allison Louque 1, Allie Cullison 13, Natalie Berry 12, Kolby Brown 2, McKenzie Zepp 2, Tamyra Simmons 11, Kaitlyn Thompson 2, Riley Morano 2.
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Halftime: Laurel, 28-25.