Meredith Wooten simply refused to lose.
Wooten scored a season-high 32 points, and the Bulldogs bounced Southside, 67-52, from the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A girls’ basketball playoffs on Saturday evening.
Wooten’s incredible game helped the Bulldogs advance to their first regional final since the 1988. Princeton will host Northside-Pinetown, and tip-off is 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“I saw a lot of hustle and grit. Everybody has been stepping up these last two or three games,” Princeton head coach Paula Wooten said. “Meredith played not to lose. She refused to lose.
“It’s amazing to make it this far, and it’s been fun to see the girls get excited like they are.”
Princeton utilized its three-point shooting to build an early double-digit advantage. The Bulldogs knocked down four three-pointers in the first quarter, and they quickly pounced on the Seahawks, who had no answer for the Bulldogs’ hot shooting.
The Bulldogs led 23-8 at the end of the first quarter, and they converted three more three-pointers in the second quarter, which helped the Bulldogs take a 37-20 lead at halftime.
In the second half, the Seahawks attempted to claw their way back into the game.
Southside trimmed the deficit down to 38-28 early in the third quarter, but Wooten turned up the heat and scored 12 points in the third quarter.
“I told the girls that they needed to slow down a little bit and take good shots,” Wooten said.
The Bulldogs managed to push their lead back up to 55-36 at the end of the third quarter.
Southside had no answer for Wooten, and the Bulldogs were able to take their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter as they cruised to victory.
Hailey Tart drained three three-pointers and finished with 11 points. Anna Taylor, Le’Onna Nelson and Kayleigh Klein all scored six points apiece.
“Hailey Tart played a big role. When they left her open, I told her to shoot it, and she can shoot,” Wooten said. “I’m very proud of them because they really played hard this year, improved, and learned to play together.”