Lions get ugly win in season opener

LILBURN — It wasn’t pretty — at times downright ugly, in fact — but Peachtree Ridge’s season-opening effort was good enough to defeat Dunwoody 49-36 in Saturday’s opening round of Parkview’s Tip-Off Classic.

The Region 7-AAAAA Lions trailed by a point at halftime, then outscored the Region 6-AAAA Wildcats 14-7 in the third quarter and 18-11 in the fourth to win. It was their third straight victory in a season opener and enough — perhaps barely enough — to advance to Monday’s semifinal against Parkview, an opening-round winner Thursday against Riverdale.

“We looked a little rusty at first,” Lions coach James Clanahan said, “but it was a good first performance to work on. What we’re trying to do at this point is get down our execution.”

Both the Lions (1-0) and Wildcats (0-1) struggled at the outset, with Dunwoody clinging to an 8-7 lead after a quarter and 18-17 advantage at intermission. But Peachtree Ridge’s Brittany Council’s free throw put the Lions ahead 31-25 at the end of the third quarter, setting the stage for a fourth where Peachtree Ridge created its distance.

Freshman Kendra Purifoye, whom Clanahan called up from junior varsity Thursday, scored all 10 of her points in the fourth quarter to lead the charge. Lorrie Cruse bucketed three of her 10 points in that final period, and Melissa Turvy chipped in a pair of her team-high 15.

“We needed (Purifoye) to step up and she did a great job,” Clanahan said.

Purifoye, who practiced only once with the varsity prior to Saturday’s game, was glad to contribute.

“It took me a little to get into the groove,” she said, “but once I felt I could score, I did.”

Turvy’s outside shooting was chilly early on, but Clanahan said she has the green light to fire away from 3-point range. The sophomore finished with three from beyond the arc.

“They finally started to drop and my confidence level started to build at that point,” Turvy said. “I know my coach has confidence in me from out there.”

Dunwoody got 15 points from Cynthia Onyeneho and eight apiece from Camille Wingo and Nicolette Wise. The Wildcats pulled from 11 behind to within 39-34 on Onyeneho’s two free throws with 4:28 remaining, but would come no closer. Parkview outscored Dunwoody 10-2 in the final four minutes.

“Our defense in the first half was good; we just had turnovers at inopportune times,” said Wildcats coach Angela Nash. “We’re not discouraged, but clearly, we have things we need to work on.”