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Randleman's Audra Petty receives the conference championship trophy as her teammates move in to celebrate.     Eric Abernathy/Randolph Hub

Tigers sweep PAC titles

RANDLEMAN — Steve Rightmyer wasn’t pleased with how his Randleman Tigers girls basketball team started in the last game the Tigers played against their Piedmont Athletic Conference and Randolph County rival Southwestern Randolph. The Tigers managed just four points in the first eight minutes and trailed early on.


No such trouble last Friday night at the PAC Tournament championship game as the Tigers blistered the nets for 26 points in the first quarter to jump into a double-digit lead and cruise to a 60-47 win.


The victory was the 14th straight win for the Tigers, who took a 19-6 record into Tuesday night’s opening round of the state 2-A tournament. SWR is now 23-4, with three of those four losses coming to RHS.


“It was one of those things that for a while in our season, we kind of struggled to start games,” Rightmyer said after the Tigers claimed their third straight conference tournament crown. “The last time we played them, we were down 10-4. We used a halfcourt trap and sped up the game, they responded and that set the tone for the game.”


With Chenleigh Robinson and Audra Petty leading the way and Gracie Beane, Bella Byman, Kadie Green and Camden Scott contributing key minutes, the Tigers kept the Cougars at a safe distance. RHS led 33-20 at halftime and 46-32 after three quarters.


“It’s hard sometimes to be patient while staying aggressive,” Rightmyer said of playing with a huge lead. “I think we did a good job of that. It helped us on the offensive end because we kept changing things on the defensive end.”


Robinson scored 19 points, Petty 17 and Beane eight for the Tigers.


“A lot of people knew what we lost with our senior group, a lot of people kind of underestimated what we can do,” Rightmyer said. “We struggled early against some really good teams. They kept working and embraced the grind, the struggle. We didn’t have a choice. This has been a fun group.”


The Cougars, who played without Caressa King due to a knee injury, were led by Jordin George with 14 points and Macy Allred with nine. Maddie Strider had eight.  


The RHS boys avenged an earlier loss to the Trinity Bulldogs by recording a 69-47 victory in the boys championship game. Trinity closed the regular season with wins over Randleman and Eastern Randolph and then defeated the Wildcats again in the semifinals to reach the title game.


RHS, which has now won 12 of its past 13 games, improved to 20-5 heading into state tournament action. It was the first tournament championship for the Tigers in quite awhile.


RHS trailed 12-10 after the first quarter before taking a 23-19 lead at the break. The second half belonged to the Tigers, who outscored THS 46-28 in the final two quarters.


“One thing we talked about was picking up the tempo,” RHS coach Daniel Mitchell said. “We were walking it up the court a little in the first and we needed to attack before they set up their defense. The other thing was to be a little sharper in our sets and plays and attacking the right part of their defense.”


After taking a slim halftime lead, the Tigers were able to extend their advantage throughout the final two quarters as Tyshaun Goldston scored 24 of his 34 points after intermission. Jirah Price added nine of his 12 total points in the final two quarters.


Just as important was keeping high-scoring senior Dominic Payne in check. The defending conference player of the year scored 15 points.


“He’s kind of been in a lull shooting the ball in the games I noticed, but when he’s on, he’s extra scary,” Mitchell said. “He’s so strong and fast driving the ball, he puts you in a bind every time. You have to stop him early and he’s still a good enough passer to kick it out. We brought help from the weak side and he likes to throw it inside so we practiced pinching in.”


Mitchell pointed to a strong rebounding effort as a key as well. 


“The guys certainly put more of an effort into rebounding,” Mitchell said.