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Bandys' third trip to the 2A West Regionals will be longer than the first two.
Madi Story made sure of that Friday night.
The sophomore guard powered her way to 33 points and 10 rebounds against North Surry, leading the Lady Trojans (28-2) to the sectional championship, 60-49, at Fleming Gym on the campus of UNC-Greensboro.
"That's been in her all year," Bandys coach Beth Queen said of Story's performance. "Madi just took control of the game, put us on her shoulders and carried us. She saw what had to be done and took it to the rim for us."
Story said her approach to every game is simple.
"I just think 'win,'" Story said. "I try to get in a mindset of not worrying about the game. I focus on the fundamentals and the next play. That's what drives my game."
The Lady Trojans and Lady Greyhounds (28-3) remained close in the game's early moments, but Bandys never trailed, staying either tied or in the lead for the entire first half.
Taking advantage of a Trojan press, North Surry used long tosses down the entire length of the court to score baskets.
"That just about killed me in the first half," Queen said. "They had scouted and prepared for that, and I thought we could adjust. We were slow to adjust. Luckily, we did get a few turnovers with them throwing it long. I wanted to put the pressure on them to wear them down."
The turnovers allowed Bandys to get a late boost in the first quarter.
Lady Trojan forward Taylor Sigmon took advantage of foul trouble on North Surry center Malaya Johnson, sinking a last-second shot to give Bandys a 16-14 lead after one.
Story, who scored eight points in the first quarter, added 11 points in the second, including a late bucket that pushed the Trojan lead to four at halftime, 32-28.
Guard Morgan Midkiff, who scored 15 points in the first half, kept North Surry in the game.
Queen said she placed an emphasis on Midkiff during her halftime speech.
"She killed us in the first half," Queen said. "Obviously, we said we had to stop that penetration. I thought we did a better job in the second half of containing Midkiff and making someone else score."
Clogging up the middle of the paint and holding Midkiff to four second-half points, Bandys distanced itself and grew its lead to double-digits in the fourth quarter.
Chelsey Queen made two three-pointers, while Brittany Moss drained one trey to push the Trojans' advantage.
Clutch down the stretch, Story made 10-of-11 attempts from the free-throw line in the second half, including 6-of-6 in the final quarter, to seal Bandys' victory.
Sigmon added seven points and 13 rebounds for Bandys.
Kristina Rumplasch led North Surry with a double-double, scoring 19 points and grabbing 16 rebounds, while Midkiff added 19 points and seven assists.
The Lady Trojans' focus quickly turns to a 4 p.m. meeting Saturday with Wilkes Central, a team that defeated Bandys' conference-mate East Burke in dramatic fashion Friday, 48-45.
Bandys knocked out Wilkes Central in last year's sectional round of the playoffs, 67-65, before falling in the regional semifinals for the second straight year.
"Wilkes Central is a great ball team," she said. "We saw them tonight with their scorers. When you get to this point, all the teams are good. I'm not sure we're focused on what we did last year with them. We're focused on trying to stop their scorers and play well Saturday."
After a big win on Friday, Story said this year's Trojans are primed to win not only Saturday's game, but a state championship, as well.
"I think we have a really good shot and can fire on all cylinders the next two games," Story said. "This is the year we need to get it."View more articles in: