Red Devils explode in fourth, return to Regional finals
Fourteen straight for their second straight.
The Lady Red Devils (25-3) scored 14 consecutive points to open the fourth quarter and blowed open a five-point third quarter lead on their way to a win against Thomasville in the Regional semifinals.
Newton-Conover will meet Salisbury (25-1) in Greensboro in the Regional final Saturday at 4 p.m. for the second straight season.
"At this point season, it is about whoever wants it most will win," said N-C coach Jonathan Tharpe. "It is all about your heart and energy. We are hungry, and they know what to expect from Salisbury. We get a day to walk through some things."
The Lady Red Devils jumped out to an 11-5 lead early in the game, but Thomasville (23-7) fought back. Christina Carter and Joselyn Spiers combined for 15 first half points to lead the effort.
Newton-Conover also helped the comeback by committing 11 first half turnovers.
"We played panic basketball," Tharpe said. "That is not how we play."
Kadesha Gibbs made a free throw just before halftime, which looked to give the Lady Red Devils a 20-19 halftime lead. However, Spiers makes a buzzer-beater from 30 feet to give the Lady Bulldogs the 22-20 lead at the break.
Gibbs led the Lady Red Devils in the first half, as she was strong offensively and defensively. She scored seven points in the first half and grabbed nine rebounds.
She helped Newton-Conover out-rebound the Lady Bulldogs, 23-8 in the first half.
"I thought we did a good job of rebounding," Tharpe said. "It was everybody. It wasn't just Kadesha. I thought our guards got in there, too."
The Lady Red Devils re-established the tempo and momentum in the third quarter. Quazzy Tipps had six points, and Briana Alston had four points in the quarter. That gave their team a 39-34 lead heading into the fourth.
That's where the game shifted, as the Lady Red Devils scored 14 straight points, including five points from Tipps and four points from Gibbs. Those performances helped Newton-Conover seal the victory.
"I think we just got comfortable with reading our gaps," Tharpe said. "When it clicks for us, we become a different ball team. Part of that is nerves at the beginning."
Gibbs finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds and three steals. Tipps scored 14 points, and Shynese Whitener scored eight points and five rebounds.
As for the Salisbury, Tharpe is confident his team will compete.
"They'll come out and fight hard," Tharpe said. "We'll see what happens in the end."