Jaclyn Shambaugh Staff writer @jaclynshambaugh
When Seventy-First landed the No. 8 seed into the Holiday Classic, point guard Gloria Smith and her teammates saw only one acceptable conclusion to the weeklong tournament.
“We were like, ‘We’ve got to win. We’ve got to bring it home,’ ” Smith said.
Pack up the trophy. It’s going to Raeford Road.
The Falcons, forcing No. 2 Terry Sanford into foul trouble early, built on a second-quarter boon for a 48-29 win in Friday’s final at Fayetteville State.
Seventy-First (7-6) played four straight nights, besting three higher seeds, including top-seeded E.E. Smith and the previously unbeaten Bulldogs (8-1) en route to the program’s first Holiday Classic title since 2012.
Smith earned Most Valuable Player honors, leading the Falcons with 13 points, including nine in the team’s 24-5 second-quarter run.
The senior said the Falcons tried to draw fouls early, especially from Bulldogs point guard Imani Elliott.
Elliott sat more than half of the second quarter with three fouls, leaving the Bulldogs without the experience of the three-year starter.
“We’ve got other ball handlers, but we don’t any other leaders like her,” Terry Sanford coach Karl Molnar said. “She’s just such a court leader.