The PA system may have been silent before the Newton-Conover and Bunker Hill girls basketball game, but the Lady Red Devils offensive and defense were loud.
Kadesha Gibbs and Samiya Pitts combined for 26 of the Lady Red Devils’ 57 points, and Newton-Conover forced 26 Bunker Hill turnovers on their way to the Catawba Valley 2A victory.
The win by the Lady Red Devils (16-2, 10-1) is the first since a tough 61-44 defeat last week against East Burke.
Newton-Conover head coach Jonathan Tharpe remembers the game all too well.
“As a team, we played bad,” Tharpe said. “We talked as a team that you can’t just turn your game on and off. You have to come out and play every night.”
Post play, which hurt the Lady Red Devils in the loss to East Burke, was a strong part of their opening half.
Eight of the Red Devils’ 12 points in the first quarter came from the post. Gibbs scored six of those points, while Shynese Whitener added two points.
“Kadesha took the loss to East Burke really hard,” Tharpe said. “She knew she didn’t play well at all. For us to be successful, she is going to have to play well.”
Even with her disappointment from the East Burke game, Gibbs’ approach on Tuesday didn’t change from any of her previous games.
“I always have an aggressive mindset going into every game,” Gibbs said. “I get frustrated at myself and I take myself out of the game.”
After building an early 12-5 lead after one quarter, Newton-Conover utilized transition offense off of Bunker Hill turnovers. Seven steals in the second quarter by the Lady Red Devils led to points on nearly every possession.
Many chances for the Lady Red Devils to score though were negated by making arrent passes and easy mistakes.
“We want to play fast and get up and down the floor,” Tharpe said. “We understand that we are going to make mistakes and turnovers in transition. I am ok with that because at least we are getting the ball up the floor.”
The Lady Bears (3-17, 1-10) tried to use those mistakes to claw back in the game. They attempted to use 3-point baskets, but couldn’t connect.
Bunker Hill was 0-for-5 from their 3-point attempts until Sarah Brown made the first 3-point basket towards the end of the second quarter.
Gibbs’ early aggression in the game paid off in points, blocks and even steals, but she picked up her second foul with 1:58 remaining in the second quarter.
The Lady Bears took advantage by adding five late points in the quarter after scoring only one point in the previous six minutes. That cut the halftime deficit to 24-11.
The Lady Red Devils committed nine first half turnovers, mostly off of the fast break, but a more focused transition offense led the way in the second half.
Pitts, who was came off of the bench, scored four layups off of the fast break in the third quarter.
“We just made sure we had our rhythm down the court,” Pitts said. “We wanted to make great passes to our open players. If we got the rebound, we just passed it down the court and tried to set up a play to get a basket.”
Gibbs came back in the third quarter from foul trouble and picked up where she left off. She scored six points in the quarter.
The Lady Red Devils scored 17 points in the third, which was the most of any quarter.
Pitts added two more baskets to her total in the fourth quarter to stretch out her team’s lead.
“Samiya has just been a fantastic sixth man off of the bench for us,” Tharpe said. “She got a chance to get into the starting lineup and did fantastic. Her game is to get out and run. We try to get her the ball. When we do, good things will happen for us.”
The Lady Bears continued to struggle to score in any way possible and continued to settle for 3-point shots. They made only 2-of-16 from 3-point territory.
Poor shooting by Bunker Hill and a resurgent attack offensively and defensively by Newton-Conover enabled the Lady Red Devils to pull away.
Haley Null and Sarah Brown led the Bears with seven points each in the game.
Tharpe is confident that the win on Tuesday could be a turning point for his team in the season.
“They have rededicated themselves,” Tharpe said. “Tonight, I think they did a good job of getting back into the right direction.”