Whale Branch Warriors finish third at holiday tourney Saturday

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The Whale Branch girls split a pair of games Saturday to finish third at the Blackville-Hilda Hawk Invitational. 

The Warriors erased most of a 17-point halftime deficit before coming up short in a 63-61 loss to Estill in the semifinals, but they bounced back with a dominant defensive effort in a 45-27 win over Ridge Spring-Monetta in the third-place game. 

Kynew Barnwell scored 22 of her 28 points in the second half of the semifinal loss to the Gators, nearly leading Whale Branch all the way back after trailing 37-20 at halftime. Jazmin Diaz added 13 points, and Zhani Thompson had 12.

The Warriors locked down on defense in the third-place game, holding RS-M to single digits in every quarter. Barnwell scored 19 points, Thompson added 13, and Diaz had nine to lead Whale Branch.

The Warriors advanced to the semifinals with wins over Midland Valley (62-19) on Thursday and Allendale-Fairfax (43-32) on Friday. 

Barnwell poured in 23 points, and Diaz and Thompson added 16 apiece for the Warriors in the opening win over Midland Valley.

Barnwell scored 17 of her game-high 20 points in the second half of the win over Allendale-Fairfax. Jazmin Diaz added eight points for the Warriors, who pulled away after a sluggish first half. 

The Tigers led 15-12 after a defensive struggle in the first half, but the Warriors locked down on defense in the second half and Barnwell got hot to lead the comeback. 

Barnwell single-handedly outscored Allendale-Fairfax 12-9 in the third quarter to help Whale Branch open up a four-point lead, then knocked down three of four free throws down the stretch to held seal the win.