Randleman girls set high bar in PAC

Randleman’s Elizabeth York looks to go up for a shot against Eastern Randolph’s Logan Beaver. (Scott Pelkey/Randolph Record)

RANDLEMAN – Staying atop the Piedmont Athletic Conference has been a challenge for the Randleman girls’ basketball team.

The Tigers have passed the test and that’s one of the rewarding aspects of another stellar season.

“Right now, everybody is bringing their ‘A’ game against us, but that’s OK,” coach Brandon Varner said.

Randleman withstood threats from Eastern Randolph and Southwestern Randolph during the past week. But it has turned out to be another title season for the Tigers, who are 9-0 in PAC play and 19-1 overall.

So if the Tigers might have looked vulnerable at times, they found the gumption to withstand those situations.

“We’re like their championship (game),” senior Gracyn Hall said of opponents. “Everybody is wanting to beat Randleman because we have that target on our back.”

Randleman’s only regular-season loss in a two-season span came in late December in the final of the Davidson-Randolph Christmas Classic. The Tigers were knocked off by Southwestern Randolph.

But with Friday night’s 55-40 home victory against the Cougars, Randleman made it a sweep of Southwestern Randolph in conference competition and clinched another league championship with three games remaining.

“We’re definitely getting everybody’s best shot,” senior Elizabeth York said. “You learn from it. We didn’t like losing. We had (that defeat) midyear and we don’t want that again.”

Earlier in the week, a 59-54 decision against Eastern Randolph came despite Brecken Snotherly’s 38 points for the Wildcats. York and Jordan Booker each drained a pair of free throws in the last 40 seconds to help the Tigers, who scored the last four points, claim the victory.

Hall ended up with 18 points and 16 rebounds, Audra Petty scored 14 points and York provided 13 points and five assists.

Audra Petty of Randleman looks for a teammate as Eastern Randolph’s Brecken Snotherly defends. (Scott Pelkey/Randolph Record)

A few tight games might be advantageous for the Tigers in the big picture.

“You get the playoff atmosphere,” Varner said. “You don’t want games when you’re blowing everybody out. You get more out of (closer games). We’re like everybody’s Super Bowl right now. You’ve got to battle through that.”

Hall said, “Closer games will end up helping us in the long run.”

Yet a chaotic late-game stretch with Eastern Randolph wasn’t totally ideal.

“I like things to be exciting, but not this close,” York said.

In Friday’s game, York had 18 points and Hall posted 16 points.

Hall and York provide a nice foundation as four-year contributors for the Tigers. Petty, Booker and Gracie Beane are clutch players as well.

“It’s just fun,” Hall said. “We don’t want to let each other down.”

Because some of the Tigers have had key roles for several seasons, opponents are familiar with what Randleman is all about, York said.

“We’ve got experience and everybody is coming for us right now,” Varner said. “Since Christmas, we’ve learned some things about ourselves. It’s character building.”

Randleman is heading for a third 20-win season in four years, the exception coming with a 12-4 record in the pandemic-shortened 2021 season.

And the Tigers are hoping there are more good times to come.

“We don’t always make the best decisions,” York said. “Our effort is what wins the games for us.”

By Bob Sutton