NCHSAA Playoffs: Lady Bulldogs punch ticket to regional rounds
Thomasville wanted to play fast. North Surry preferred a slower tempo.
Something had to give in Friday’s third round of the NCHSAA 2-A state playoffs. The fullcourt pressure of the Lady Bulldogs won out. Making the Greyhounds speed up, the ball handling was shaky as THS forced a plethora of turnovers. Toss in a controversial foul call that altered momentum and the end result was a 56-43 win for the Lady ‘Dogs, who got 16 points from Christina Coleman and 11 each from Joslyn Spires and Timber Tate on their way to the regional round next week.
“We always stress playing our style of basketball,” said head man of the Bulldogs, Brandon Staton. “They want to play a slow pace and that is not our style. We have to take them out of their comfort zone and that is something we did tonight.”
Thomasville caught the Greyhounds off guard with the constant pressure and held the lead, 19-10 on a Spires jumper a minute into the second quarter. Adjustments were made and NSHS rallied back. They took the next eight points, getting within a single digit following a baseline shot by Maddison Hawks.
Soon after came a controversial call that appeared at the time to benefit the Greyhounds. Instead, it wound up boosting the Bulldogs.
Spires drove the lane, crashing into North’s tall center, Malaya Johnson. The home crowd hollered for a charge while the fans that made the trip from the Chair City campaigned for a blocking foul. It turns out both were right. The two officials that blew whistles had different calls, resulting in fouls on both players and a jumpball. It was Johnson’s second, but the news was worse for THS. Spires picked up her third personal with 1:30 still left first half.
Taking it in stride, the Bulldogs used it as motivation to build its lead back up to seven. Coleman hit a pair of 3-pointers and Spires remained in to make a jumper for a 27-20 halftime lead.
“That is the first time I have ever heard of that,” said Staton of the double call. “When they gave both girls a foul that hurt us because that was Joslyn’s third foul. You have to play through situations like that and we came out firing on all cylinders after that.”
After a third quarter that kept the deficit near the eight-point mark, Kayla Johnson stole the inbound pass in the fourth quarter to put the Bulldogs up 13.
North had one last burst of energy left in them. Erin March scored in the paint and Jordan Badgett converted on two baseline plays to pull the margin back to 41-34. Thomasville turned off the lights in Ron King Gymnasium in a span of 40 seconds the next few trips down.
Thomas diced through the lane for a score with Tate adding four straight at the charity stripe. Johnson capped the 9-0 run by splashing in a 3, as the players on the sideline leaped off the bench in celebration as the Greyhounds called for a timeout. Nine is the closest North would get to the end.
Thomasville (20-5) will compete in the regional semifinals next Wednesday at UNCG.
“Our job continues to get much harder and it never gets easier,” Staton said. “Our goal at the beginning of the year was to get to the state tournament and now we just have to keep taking it one game at a time.”
Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.