NCHSAA Playoffs: THS ousts Eagles to reach regional final
Thomasville watched as East Davidson slowly began to pull away in the second quarter of Wednesday’s NCHSAA 2-A Western Regional semifinal at UNC-Greensboro’s Fleming Gym.
With one blow of the whistle, momentum reversed and the Lady Bulldogs were off and running.
Bayley Plummer — the Golden Eagles 6-foot-2 freshman — was called for her third foul with her team up four. Her visit to the bench was just what the Bulldogs were waiting for. An 18-3 run ensued, putting THS in complete control as they cruise into Saturday’s regional final, 62-48. Thomasville will face Pisgah at 3:30 p.m. at Fleming Gym, with the victor moving on to play for a state championship next weekend at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill.
“She’s a great player, an exceptional player,” said Thomasville coach Brandon Staton. “We just had to attack and get her in foul trouble. Once we got her in foul trouble, it made it that much harder for them.”
Plummer picked up her third foul going over the back of Timber Tate for a rebound with 5:29 left until halftime. With their star now sitting on the bench, East lost its top rebounder and shot blocker, opening up the lane for the Bulldogs to attack. They would attack hard.
Tate scored a quick six points during a 8-0 spurt. After a pair of free throws by East, Kayla Johnson scored on a loose ball and Christina Coleman popped a 3-pointer. After another Eagle free throw, Joslyn Spires was left open up top and she drained a trey. Seconds later, Jashana Thomas gave THS a double-digit lead at the half, 33-22.
“That took us out of the game. It really hurt,” said East coach Don Corry, talking about Plummer’s third foul. “But you’ve got to give Thomasville credit. They played hard and got after it. That’s the best I’ve seen Thomasville play this year and I have seen them play about five or six times. Their press really worked well, and I think our youth and inexperience really came to the front tonight.”
The Golden Eagles exited the locker room with Plummer back on the floor and got off to a promising start in the final half. Jennifer Welborn and Lori Morgan had consecutive buckets to reduce the deficit to seven. But trouble was lurking around the corner one more time.
Spires hit a 3-pointer, followed by the fourth foul called on Plummer at the 5:52 mark. Thomas immediately doused fuel on the fire, sinking another 3 for Thomasville that made it a 13-point lead.
By the time Plummer came back in with 6:19 to go, the Bulldogs had a firm grasp on the game up 50-33.
Coleman pocketed 25 points, hitting three of Thomasville’s eight treys. Tate had 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Spires added 10 points.
Thomasville (21-5) enters the regional final with a head of steam and will take on the Bears (25-6), who eliminated Bandys 57-45. As the lone senior on the team, Spires would like to have a couple more wins in a THS uniform.
“I had a few girls the other day, they told me, we’re gonna take you all the way there.’ So if they’re gonna take me, I can’t let them down,” said Spires.
Despite playing just 19 minutes, Plummer managed to get 17 points and brought in 15 rebounds. Morgan added 16 points for a East squad that has everyone eligible to return next season.
“Nobody thought we would be here,” said Corry. “I told the girls to hold their heads up and be proud of what they accomplished. They’ve had an outstanding year and I am proud of them.”
East went 20-10 this year, highlighted by a Central Carolina Conference tournament championship.