The Hornets gained momentum throughout to roll to a 59-32 win over Wilmington.
By BILL ALBRIGHT
HERMITAGE -- For the first seven minutes of Thursday's Mercer County Athletic Conference game, Hickory and Wilmington took turns scoring points, with the Hornets holding a 14-12 lead.
However, during the final 38 seconds of the first period, the Hornets scored seven unanswered points; and they steadily increased the margin from there, cruising to a 59-32 win.
Now midway through the season, Hickory (10-4) coach Jeanette Whitehead likes what she sees in her team.
"The kids are playing real hard and together right now and I am getting excellent leadership from my senior, Colleen Gottuso," said Whitehead. "We struggled through some adversity when another senior went down with a stress fracture to her foot, but the younger kids have picked it up and we just can't wait to get my two injured players back."
Gottuso closed the first period with a 3-point basket, then started and finished the second period with 3's. She finished with a game-high 28 points.
Capability: "She was focused tonight, but that is the confidence we have in her because she is capable of doing that every night," said Whitehead. "But she is only as good as her teammates around her, and tonight I thought they worked real well together.
"I remind the girls that you only go as far as your senior leads you, and Colleen Gottuso did a nice job leading us tonight."
Hickory's freshman point guard, Chere' Marshall dished out some assists, came up with some big steals, and still found time to score 10 points.
"Chere' does a nice job, and tonight, she did some real nice things for us," said Whitehead. "But I also credit Cathy Powell for getting in there with follow-ups and I think Erica Viselli led us with assists tonight. These kids are definitely playing as a team."
Likes first half: Wilmington coach Katy DeMedal was pleased with her team's play in the first half.
"Gottuso had 19 points and our goal was to shut her down if we were going to have a chance," said DeMedal.
"We could have been in the one-and-one situation in the third quarter, but we couldn't get to the line to take advantage of it."
Jessica Reiber and Kylie Mackaness finished with 13 points each to lead the Greyhounds (4-7).
"She has struggled this year, but she has a lot of potential and all she has to do is to get it together," said DeMedal of Mackaness. "She has had a couple of 20 games this year, but none in the last few."