A strong start proved to be enough for Ashe County to capture the Blue Ridge Athletic Conference eighth-grade girls basketball tournament title on Tuesday afternoon.

The No. 1 seed Bulldogs scored the game’s first eight points and never looked back, defeating East Wilkes 37-25 in the finals at North Wilkes Middle School.

Ashe County led 8-0 after a layup from Macie Miller while the No. 2 Scorpions didn’t get on the scoreboard until the 2:20 mark of the opening quarter with a Jayden Hutchison free throw.

East Wilkes didn’t hit its first field goal until the last 15 seconds of the quarter with a runner in the lane from Peyton Mastin.

Mastin, who was named to the all-tournament team, did her best to help the Scorpions claw back into the game. After hitting a pair of free throws, Mastin collected a steal at midcourt and hit an easy layup.

A runner from Abby Hatley and a short jumper from Lexis Winters cut the Bulldogs lead to 12-11 less than two minutes into the second.

Then the duo of Miller and Abigail Jones — the tournament’s most valuable player — took control.

Miller, who led the way with a game-high 14 points, completed a 3-point play and Jones converted a putback to spur a 13-4 run to close out the half.

The Scorpions, who received eight points apiece from Mastin and Hatley, got as close as 25-17 early in the third quarter, but Ashe County outscored them by seven in the third quarter to push the lead back to double digits.

Kelsea Absher chipped in six points for the Scorpions, who end their season at 12-4.

Paige Overcash added 13 points for the Bulldogs and Jones chipped in seven.

Note: In addition to Jones and Mastin, Miller was also named to the all-tournament team, as were Central Wilkes’ Jianna Holmes and North Wilkes’ Olivia Rhoades.

Girls semifinals

#2 East Wilkes 38, #3 North Wilkes 32

The Scorpions pulled out a BRAC semifinal win in a hotly-contested game on Monday evening at North Wilkes Middle School.

A big reason for the Scorpions’ victory was the ability to hit free throws late as they went 8-of-11 from the charity stripe in the fourth.

Mastin, who finished with a game-high 13 points, was 4-of-6 with that quartet of points icing the game in the final 30 seconds. A late layup was added in the middle of the two trips to the free-throw line.

But early on, North Wilkes was in control thanks to the play of Abbie Myers and Rhoades.

Myers knocked down a 3-pointer and Rhoades, who paced the Jaguars with 11 points, connected on a runner to beat the buzzer and give North a 13-6 lead after a quarter.

The two teams were tied 18-18 at halftime, then the Scorpions’ defense stepped up, holding North to just a 3-pointer from Myers in the quarter.

After an Absher layup, Jayden Hutchison gave East the lead for good at 22-21.  Hatley collected a steal at half court and hit a layup in the final 30 seconds of the quarter to extend the lead to three (24-21).

Hutchision, who added seven points, pushed the lead to 28-24 but the Jaguars got as close as one at 29-28 with 1:41 to play courtesy of a putback from Salem Adams.

Myers added eight points for the Jaguars and Natalie Mathis chipped in five.

#1 Ashe County 45, #4 Central Wilkes 23

A double-digit halftime lead propelled the top-seeded Bulldogs into the BRAC championship game on Monday afternoon.

Ashe’s defense did its part as it held the No. 4 Falcons to single digits in every quarter. Offensively, Jones led the way for Ashe County with a game-high 23 points and Katlyn French added 12.

Holmes paced the Falcons with 19 points. McKenzie Richardson and Chloe Lyon added two points apiece.

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