By Anthony Rhoads
TYRONE n The last time the North Clayton and Woodward Academy girls played, Woodward trounced North Clayton by 31 points to clinch the Region 4-AAAA regular season championship.
In Saturday's region tournament finals at Sandy Creek High School, the much-anticipated rematch went a little different but the final result was the same.
North Clayton (19-8) played Woodward closely the entire contest but the Lady War Eagles held on for a 44-38 victory.
North Clayton trailed for much of the first half but the biggest Woodward lead was four points at about halfway through the second quarter.
North Clayton snagged a 17-16 lead with about 2:11 remaining in the half when Christina Royster scored. Woodward reclaimed the lead and with seven seconds remaining, Kendra Courtlan came through for North Clayton. Courtland made a basket to make the score 20-19 and was fouled.
She failed to convert the three-point play but grabbed the rebound and scored at the buzzer to give her team a 21-20 lead at the half.
North Clayton went on a 5-0 run in the third quarter to take a 26-20 lead but Woodward came back to lead 29-28 going into the fourth quarter.
With 6:40 remaining in the game, North Clayton's Jasmine Sykes scored to tie the game at 30-30 but Woodward outscored North Clayton 14-8 the rest of the game.
Sykes and Ashley Johnson led North Clayton with nine points each. Courtland added eight points for the Lady Eagles.
Two Woodward players scored in double figures including Daphne Mitchell with 13 and Brittany Lacey with 11.
North Clayton will enter the Class AAAA state tournament as a No. 2 seed.
North Clayton 59, Sandy Creek 55 (boys): The North Clayton boys bounced back from a 69-64 loss to Douglas County Friday night with a 59-55 win over Sandy Creek Saturday to take the No. 3 seed going into state.
Josh Brewster led North Clayton with 21 points while Shawn Christian and Vincent Wood added eight each.
Sandy Creek's Aaron Caruthers led all scorers with 26 points. Kevin Lott added 10 for the Patriots.
North Clayton and Sandy Creek swapped the lead seven times in the fourth quarter.
With 4:33 remaining, North Clayton took the lead for good when Dominique Mitchell scored to give his team a 47-46 lead.
North Clayton trailed 9-8 at the end of the first quarter. With about 15 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Brewster scored on a dunk to tie the game a 19-19.
Sandy Creek led 38-33 at the end of the third quarter but North Clayton outscored the Patriots 26-19 in the final quarter.
Tournament recap: The North Clayton girls entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed and received a double bye into the semifinals. The Lady Eagles beat Sandy Creek 32-23 Friday to go to the championship game. Johnson led North Clayton with 14 points.
The North Clayton boys entered the region playoffs as the No. 4 seed. The Eagles opened the tournament with an 80-31 victory over Pebblebrook Tuesday night.
North Clayton earned its first berth to the state tournament since 2001 by beating Chapel Hill 57-55 Wednesday night thanks to a last-second basket by Christopher Barnes. In the semifinals, North Clayton lost 69-64 to Douglas County. Johnathan Bolston scored 23 in the loss.