Prep Playoffs: East girls down Wilkes Central for spot in regional semifinal
East Davidson has walked away from Fleming Gymnasium with some bad memories in recent years. On Tuesday in the regional semifinals, they will get their chance at reversing their tough luck on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Thanks to a strong second half effort Friday evening in the third round, the third-seeded Lady Golden Eagles return to the regionals for a second straight season after their 66-47 victory over No. 22 seed Wilkes Central. East led by seven at the half before pouring it on in the final 16 minutes. Bayley Plummer had another triple-double with 23 points, 23 rebounds and 10 blocks. Lori Morgan and Madi Hallman chipped in 10 points apiece.
The visiting Eagles from Wilkesboro did not play like a typical No. 22 seed first half. They gave the hesitant hometown Eagles fits and were searching for a third straight playoff upset.
Down six in the second quarter, Wilkes Central rallied to snatch the lead away. Amber Godfrey scored on three straight shots in the lane and Kailey McNeil connected from the elbow, sending the guests ahead, 19-17.
The teams went back and forth over the next few minutes before East began to take charge. Plummer broke a 25-all score with an offensive rebound and layup. EDHS finished the final two minutes on a 9-2 run to lead by seven with a half to play.
“I think we were a little tight first half and forcing things,” said East coach Don Corry. “We started out good, but they made that comeback and were physical and that got us out of rhythm. I just kept telling them to relax, slow down and do what we do. Make a pass, cut to the basket and set picks. Once we started to go to the basket it opened things up pretty good.”
Wilkes Central needed a good start to the second half to get momentum back on its side. East never allowed it to happen. The defense held them to five third quarter points, thanks largely to Plummer roaming the middle. Even when she was not blocking shots, Plummer was adjusting shots and forcing WCHS to take lower percentage field goals. East began to execute on set pieces, scoring on three inbound plays under the basket. The Eagles looked completely relaxed and the scoreboard began to show it. When Madi Beeson found Plummer with a layup at the buzzer, East was up 48-32 and had a trip to the regionals within reach.
“We played good defense, and one thing that helps us is we can play real tight on their guards,” Corry said. “If they go by us, they are going into something they don't like and that is Bayley. Next thing you know the ball is going the other way.”
With 2:30 to go, the East lead had reached 29 and Corry began to clear his bench.
The Golden Eagles will face second-seeded Bandy's on Tuesday. The Trojans are 29-0 and have not been in a close game the whole year. They average 82 points per game and have four players that score in double figures. They defeated North Wilkes 87-61 in the third round.
“They shoot incredibly well,” said Corry. “We just need to make them play our game and try to take their shots away.”
Notes: East moves to 24-3 on the season … Taylor Bell drew five charges on Wilkes Central.