Prep Hoops: Joslyn 'in'-Spires Bulldogs to victory
When the game is on the line, Joslyn Spires wants the ball in her hands.
In Friday’s Central Carolina Conference regular season finale against rival Lexington on Senior Night, the veteran scored on a coast-to-coast layup with four seconds left, leading the Lady Bulldogs to a heart-stopping 61-59 victory that gave them a share of the league title with Central Davidson. By virtue of its sweep against the Spartans, THS (15-4, 8-2) will have the top seed out of the CCC for the playoffs and will be the No. 1 seed for next week’s conference tournament.
“I knew I needed to get the ball in my hands and get it down the floor,” said Spires. “I was able to beat the defender and once I got by her, all I had to do was make the layup. I just got it in my hands and pushed it.”
The game-winner was set up by a second half rally from Lexington. Emerson Hayes kept the Yellow Jackets close in the first half scoring 13 of her game-high 22 points. THS held a 32-25 advantage at the half and was up by 10 consistently for much of the second half until the Jackets made a run.
Lexington cut the lead to five after Hayes stole the ball away and converted a layup, but baskets by Megan Kinley and Spires sent the margin back to eight. It remained eight with three minutes left when LHS crept a bit closer. Jasmine Carter finished an 8-1 run with a pair of successful free throws at the line, leaving the visitors one back.
“We gave them some easy baskets because we were not getting back in transition,” said Thomasville coach Brandon Staton. “They made the baskets and were able to get themselves back in the game.”
Timber Tate made the back end of a double-bonus free throw, keeping the Lady ‘Dogs up 59-57. That set up a frenetic ending.
Hayes missed a runner on one end and Christina Coleman had a layup roll off on the home side. The clock ticked away towards 10 seconds as Lexington found Charity Wall for a layup to tie the game. Spires received the inbound pass and drove straight down the floor towards the goal. Once behind the final defender, the senior floated the ball off the backboard softly for the go-ahead bucket.
Alexis Fowler attempted a halfcourt shot but the ball was knocked away and time expired, sending the home faithful into a frenzy as THS celebrated a CCC title.
“For it to be my senior year and win the conference championship — you can’t beat that,” said Spires.
Several minutes after the final horn, Staton was still trying to regain his breath.
“Winning the conference was one of our goals that we had for ourselves at the beginning of the year,” said the second-year coach. “It feels great.”
Tate paced the Bulldogs with 18 points despite limited play due to foul trouble. Spires had 14 and Coleman 13. LHS got 19 from Carter.
Thomasville has a first round bye in the conference tournament and will next play Thursday in the semifinals held at Lexington.