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Lees-McRae Wins Inaugural Developmental Women’s Basketball Championship

The inaugural Conference Carolinas Developmental Women’s Basketball Championship was held on Monday, Feb. 5 in Belmont, North Carolina inside the Wheeler Center on the campus of Belmont Abbey.

Lees-McRae went 2-0 on the day to claim the title. The Bobcats began the afternoon with a 54-50 victory over the host Crusaders. Barton then defeated Erskine 96-38 and the Crusaders took third with a consolation game win over Erksine, 53-23.

In the championship final, Lees-McRae toppled Barton 83-46 to claim the title. The contest had just one tie, 2-2, as the Bobcats used a 23-12 first period to propel them to the win. The Banner Elk, North Carolina program shot an impressive 57.1 percent (36-of-63) from the field and 53.8 percent (7-of-13) from long-range in the victory. Five players netted double figures led by tournament MVP Sandra Mason who scored 21 and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. Barton was paced by Cyntiah Braden’s 18.

In game one, a 54-50 win for Lees-McRae over Belmont Abbey, the teams had 11 lead changes and six ties with the Crusaders leading by as many as 11 points and controlling most of the game. However, a late 15-point run by the Bobcats gave Lees-McRae their largest lead of five with 6:48 to play in the third quarter and they held on for the come-from-behind victory. Shayne Burton led LMC with 17 points and added seven rebounds while Katie Story paced Belmont Abbey with 20 points. 

Barton never trailed in game two and shot 53.9 percent from the field (41-of-76) in the 96-38 victory. Four players finished in double figures for the Bulldogs led by Erica McClary who poured in 22. The Flying Fleet were paced by Brianna Beyerle and Aiyana Hightower who each scored nine.

In the consolation matchup, Belmont Abbey never trailed and finished 21-of-42 (50 percent) from the field and 6-of-12 (50 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc in the victory. Theresa Trettel paced the Crusaders with 12 points and 10 rebounds while Talasha Walker led Erskine with 12 points. 

Earlier this fall Conference Carolinas announced that a developmental championship will be held in men’s soccer, men’s wrestling, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s volleyball and baseball. The developmental teams will be composed of student-athletes that have either not competed at the varsity level in 2023-24 or have competed sparingly at the varsity level by the time of the championship.