By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STEPHENS CITY -- Sherando was given a real scare against Heritage on Tuesday night, but Audra Sites wasn't about to let her team go home with a loss.
Sites led the charge in the fourth period as Sherando pulled out a 73-54 victory over the Pride in the Conference 21 girls basketball quarterfinals.
"I didn't have my best game for the first three quarters, so I knew I had to step it up in the fourth quarter," Sites said. "We just didn't want our season to come to an end."
Sites had 14 of her team-high 21 points in the final period.
The Warriors (14-6) led 49-46 entering the fourth period. Sites then scored five straight points to help give Sherando a 54-46 lead with 7:27 left.
"That's just Audra Sites," Sherando coach Mike Marsh said of Sites' fourth quarter. "She's like the Energizer bunny for this team. When everybody else is getting tired, Audra still has plenty left. She was really aggressive. The whole team was aggressive in the fourth quarter."
The Pride cut the lead to seven, but that would be as close as they would get the rest of the way.
It appeared the Warriors might cruise to a win with the way they played in the first period. Sherando caused seven first-quarter turnovers and held a 22-10 lead after the first eight minutes.
Sherando's Heidi Brown had seven in the first period to lead the charge.
However, things changed quickly in the second period. Foul trouble forced the Warriors to have to back out of their full-court press, and the Pride took advantage.
Heritage used a 13-2 run to cut the lead to 24-23 lead with 3:56 left in the first half.
Heritage's Kayla Tibbs had eight of her 12 second-period points during the run.
We really had a tough time with her," Marsh said of Tibbs. "We knew she was good, but I don't think the kids thought she was as good as she was. We made some adjustments in the second half. We put Audra [Sites] on her in the second half. We wanted to put a taller, bigger body on her and I think that helped."
Sherando turned the ball over nine times in the second period.
Brown hit a 3-pointer with 1:51 left in the first half gave the Warriors a 31-27 edge. A basket by Jonique Mitchell and a free throw by Olivia Overton cut the lead to one, before a free throw by Davina Lane gave Sherando a 32-30 halftime lead.
In the third period, the Pride took their only lead of the game, 46-45 with 55 seconds left in the quarter. Sherando answered with four points, two free throws each from Lane and Jess Hakel.
Mikahla Winslow had 10 points for the Pride (9-13).
Sites had 10 rebounds and two steals, and Hakel had 14 points and six rebounds for the Warriors. Brown finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, and Lane had 12 points and three steals for Sherando. Erin Magalis added four points, eight assists and five rebounds for Sherando.
The Warriors play at Loudoun County on Thursday in the conference semifinals with a regional berth on the line.
"They're a very good team," Marsh said. "We're expecting a very good ballgame. We'll just go there and try to play our best."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd