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The trip alone wound up being worth the price of admission for Pine Lake Prep’s girls basketball team in this week’s opening round play in the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s 1A class playoffs.

After being perhaps the unexpected recipient of the final at-large invitation extended to postseason, the Pride paid dearly for the nevertheless welcome experience. The Pride was dropped from the NCHSAA 1A class West Region field following a 79-25 defeat delivered by Murphy.

With the loss coming at the hands of an undefeated Murphy team not only owning the top-seeded status with the regional but also the No. 1 ranking in the state, it served to bring Pine Lake’s campaign to a close with an overall 7-18 record.

The fact that the Pride was even included among the teams to extend its play into the second season playoffs itself came as somewhat of a relief.

The postseason berth was sort of a saving grace for the season came after Pine Lake failed to log in a single win over the entire course of the 10-game 2019 segment of the split-year’s schedule. This followed a start-of-the-season losing streak that actually totaled 11 games overall. Pine Lake secured all of its wins for the season exclusively in its PAC-7 Conference ranks.

Murphy, whose own unbeaten Bulldogs ruled outright as both regular-season and postseason tournament champions of the Big Smokey Mountain Conference, provided No. 32-seeded PLP with an up-close-and-personal view of what is also considered to be a prime contender for this season’s state 1A championship crown.

The Pride was limited to single-digit outputs during each of the four periods and, in the process, continually slipped off the pace by differences of 16, 10, 9 and 9 points to also endure their largest losing margin of the season.

In the losing cause, the Pride managed to secure single successful three-point shots apiece from leading scorers Chloe Mullen, Josalyn Johnson and Carley Scholl during the ill-fated major upset attempt.

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