Leading by as many as 14 points, Wadley held off Fayetteville in a fourth-quarter rally, advancing to play tournament host Winterboro on Thursday.
“It was a good, physical, hard-fought ball game,” said Wadley coach Donald Jones. “It seems like Wadley and Fayetteville have come up with a nice little rivalry that started last year in softball, and it’s carried right over to basketball. All of our games have ended that way. Nobody gives up.”
The two teams split their regular season matchups this season.
Loren Padgett led Wadley with 13 points, eight steals and six rebounds. Latia Willliamson scored 15 points off the bench for the Lady Bulldogs, while Candace Jones scored six points and had 11 rebounds.
Iedra Leonard led Fayetteville with 15 points. Brittany Snyder had 14 and Ashley Roberson had nine.
“The girls came out in the first half and looked flat,” said Fayetteville head coach Chad Wilkinson. “We couldn’t get anything going offensively. You have to play three phases of basketball. When you don’t do that it’s hard to win. My hat’s off to Wadley, they came in ready to play. They wanted it more than we did.”
Jade Brasher got the Lady Wolves on the board with an early layup.
Following a layup from Snyder that tied the game at 5-5, Wadley went on a 7-0 run which included a 3-pointer from Padgett midway through the opening quarter.
Heading into the second quarter, Wadley held a 14-7 lead.
Padgett gave the Lady Bulldogs a 10-point edge with her early second quarter layup, and hit another 3-pointer moments later to make it 21-10.
The Lady Wolves spent much of their time in the second quarter at the charity stripe, making five of their 14 attempts to keep pace with Wadley at 29-17.
Dailey Watson brought Fayetteville within 10 points by hitting a 3-pointer to open the third quarter scoring.
Williamson responded with a pair of free throws and a triple of her own to give Wadley a 34-20 with six minutes to play in the quarter.
In the closing minutes, Snyder completed a 3-point and Brasher hit a free throw to cut the lead to 39-29.
The Lady Bulldogs held a 42-29 lead heading into the final quarter.
As time dwindled away in the fourth, Fayetteville could not come within 10 points of Wadley until Leonard’s layup at the 2:24 mark.
Snyder’s basket moments later made it 49-42 with two minutes to play, sparking life in the Lady Wolves.
Wadley, however, quickly put an end to the rally and sealed the nine-point win.
“Every point counts, especially when you’re in the area tournament,” Wilkinson said. “I hate it for the girls, I’m proud of their effort all season. When you lose, it’s tough.”
Despite a four-win season, Wilkinson praised the play of his two seniors, Roberson and Mandolin Parrett.
“The seniors showed a lot of leadership,” he said. “They didn’t have a lot of experience, but I’m proud of them for hanging in there. I’m going to miss them next year. They left something for these young girls to build on.”
Wadley’s semifinal game with Winterboro is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m.
“It’s wonderful to make it, but Winterboro’s a tough task,” Jones said. “They have one of the best players in the region if not the best and we have our work cut out for us. We’re just going to play hard and see what happens.”
Contact Wesley Sinor at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @sinorDHsports.