Hannah Grace Buckley led the Lady Devils in points with 22 and drained five of the Stringer's six three-point baskets.

Big shots behind the arc made the difference for Stringer on Monday night. Whether pulling even in the first half on two separate occasions or expanding its lead over the Lady Pirates in the second, the Lady Devils drained six three's on opening night of the Region 7-1A Girls Basketball Tournament to beat Mount Olive, 54-43.

"Those [shots] can make all the difference in the world," said Stringer girls head Coach Trista Magee Whitman. "[Mount Olive] played zone, so it's hard to get shots inside. Us being able to hit a couple from the outside allows us to stretch their defense some, and that was huge."

Hannah Grace Buckley led the Lady Devils in points with 22 and drained five of the Stringer's six three-point baskets.

Sophomore guard Abby Grace Hosey sank a critical three behind the arc as well.

"I'll have to brag on Abby Grace Hosey," added Whitman. "She didn't play at all in the first half and came in the second half and sinks a huge three and gets two steals. That's the kind of thing that makes a championship team."

The entire first half felt like a game of catch-up for the Lady Devils, erasing deficits ranging from three, four, and five points on five separate occasions.

"We did not play well at the start," said Whitman. "We missed 12 free throws in the first half, while 13 of [Mount Olive's] 24 first-half points were off free throws. That was just one of the ways we did not convert."

Stringer caught wind offensively in the second and fourth periods, scoring double-digits in each after only scoring single digits in the first and third.

"Sometimes we're bad about playing in spurts," said Whitman. "But that's just the game of basketball, though. The officials were calling the game pretty tight, and we had to adjust. It took us longer to do that at times, but eventually, we figured out a way to take care of business."

After a three by Buckley early in the third period pushed the Lady Devils in front, 28-25, their lead was never surrendered again.

Stringer built leads of 10 in each of the remaining periods.

"I was proud of how we came back in the second half and focus on the things we were not doing well in the first half," said Whitman. "[For one] we didn't have near as many turnovers in the second half, that converted into points for them in the first half. We took care of the ball and were more composed and hit the big shots we needed."

Allie Goldman finished in double-digits for Stringer too with 13 points.

The Lady Devils face Sebastopol Friday in the championship game. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.

"We celebrating tonight, and tomorrow we'll focus on Friday," said Whitman. "Sebastapol has a really great team. But so do we at times."

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