Laney, Hoggard reach MEC girls basketball tournament title game

The semifinals of the Mideastern Conference Girls Basketball Tournament were held at Brunswick Community College on Wednesday.

**Click here to view a gallery of 42 photos from the action***

No. 2 Hoggard 46, No. 3 Topsail 20

The Vikings used an 18-1 run spanning part of the second and third quarters to build a comfortable lead and advance to the championship game for the fifth straight season.

Hoggard (20-6) won three straight tournament titles from 2015-17 before suffering a 55-39 loss to Laney last year. The rivals will meet again Friday night at 6 p.m.

“Every year we lose great players, but we pride ourselves on developing our girls when they are young,” Vikings coach Boubacar Aw said. “We don’t get a whole lot of athletes here, but we do get girls who are extremely smart and do a great job of listening and allowing us to coach them.”

Hoggard’s Grace Howell dished out seven assists. [Tim Hower/Coastal Preps]

The game was tied at 8 after Topsail’s Lauren Caveness drained a 3-pointer 27 seconds into the second quarter, but the Pirates (19-8) managed only a free throw from Payton Little over the next 11:41 of game action.

During that stretch, Hoggard raced out to a 26-9 advantage after Claire-Emma Britt converted a layup with 4:36 remaining in the third quarter. The Vikings’ lead never slipped below 16 points the rest of the game.

Sophomore Icess Tresvik led the way with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Hoggard also got eight points a piece from Britt and Julie Wilkerson as well as seven assists from Grace Howell.

Topsail, which shot 16 percent from the field (7 of 45), got eight points from Lauren Caveness and 11 rebounds from Julia Sullivan.

“Every team needs to have an identity and ours is on the defensive end,” Aw said. “We let our defense dictate our offense. Once we got calmed down, we were able to execute.”

No. 1 Laney 56, No. 5 Ashley 22

The defending champions ran their winning streak over Mideastern Conference opponents to 29 games.

Sophomore Saniya Rivers opened the game with a 3-pointer and Laney (25-1) led 19-0 before the Screaming Eagles finally got on the board with a layup from Kaitlyn Brannin. The advantage grew to 31-2 and was 33-6 at halftime.

Morgan Adam was one of 11 Laney players to score. [Tim Hower/Coastal Preps]

“One of the things we talked about going into the postseason is that every game you are 0-0 and your record from the regular season doesn’t follow you if you lose,” Laney coach Ashley Berting said.

Eleven different Buccaneers reached the scoring column, led by 13 from Rivers. Taylor Chism finished with 10 points, while Kennedy Martin and Morgan Adam each chipped in six.

“Everybody contributing is awesome,” Berting said. “Developing that chemistry and confidence is going to be what carries us in the postseason.”

Laney’s last loss to a conference foe came in the regular season game at Hoggard a year ago. In 17 wins over MEC opponents this season, the Buccaneers have an average margin of victory of 27.8 points.

Ashley (11-15) was led offensively by Brannin, who finished with eight points. Ava Toppin chipped in seven.