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A long time coming: Southeast girls claim HAECO title
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A long time coming: Southeast girls claim HAECO title

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GREENSBORO — So this is what Southeast Guilford has missed the past few decades.

Sydney Roberts had one chance to participate in the HAECOisHiring.com Invitational and it sure was worth it for the Falcons’ senior guard.

“My whole four years I always wanted to come here,” she said of Greensboro’s big high school basketball showcase. “It’s just the people who come here to watch. The fans. Everybody comes to see HAECO.”

Those at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center on Wednesday saw Southeast secure the girls’ basketball championship by defeating Page 48-30.

Roberts was named the Most Valuable Player after posting 28 points in the final.

It had been more than 30 years since Southeast participated in this tournament. This marked the first time the Falcons girls played in the title game, and they looked like they were familiar with the situation.

“We’re here, we might as well win,” coach Rachel Clark said.

Southeast had been a power program, winning the 2019 state title in Class 3-A and advancing to the championship round the next year before the pandemic prevented a chance to repeat.

“We’ve got some good older kids who have experience and they put the others on their backs,” Clark said.

Still, the Falcons (9-2) were seeded sixth this week. They toppled a higher seeded team each step of the way, knocking off Smith and Ragsdale. Now they have a five-game winning streak.

So it was a matter of adding to the championship collection.

“It was a big deal,” Southeast starter Moriah Owens said. “Add this one to the list.”

Fifth-seeded Page (4-6) was in its girls’ tournament-record 19th title game, aiming for its 14th championship — and its first since 2013. Candice Williams scored 11 points, but the Pirates couldn’t overcome 30.3-percent shooting from the field and 22 turnovers.

Southeast built a 19-11 halftime lead, then continued to excel in transition enough to pad the margin. Page couldn’t get enough stops at the defensive end to make a serious rally.

“We picked that back up,” Clark said of executing on fast-break opportunities.

Dominique Walker added 10 points and Reagan Harris pulled in 10 rebounds for the Falcons. Roberts, who made five steals, was 11-for-13 on free throws.

Roberts said Southeast has been gelling into a solid team. The Falcons might have unleashed their potential during the tournament.

“Because we lost some many people,” Roberts said the reason for lower expectations from outside observers. “But we have a winning attitude. They aren’t going to doubt us anymore.”

Southeast had participated in Eastern Guilford’s holiday tournament in recent seasons. When there was an opening for the HAECO, the Falcons didn’t want to turn down the spot.

“We’re invited, why not?” Clark said. “Something different, a new experience and it has been great.”

It has turned out to be quite a week for the Falcons.

“And it’s only Wednesday,” Clark said.

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