Two freshmen stole the show in the first of two 2A Womens' Regional semifinal games Thursday.
Bandys' Madi Story scored 10 points in the first half, but it was Salisbury's Brielle Blaire who had the final say. Blaire scored 11 points in the third quarter to push the Hornets into Friday's Regional final. Salisbury defeated Bandys 61-44. The Lady Hornets advance to play Newton-Conover in the West Region Finals on Saturday.
"Madi did a good job for us," said Bandys' coach Beth Queen. "She was probably one of our best guards at taking the ball off the dribble tonight. Madi matches up well against Salisbury. Both freshmen stepped forward and led their teams. They are both going to be good ball players in the future."
Both teams got off to rough starts in the game. They each shot 2-for-7 from the field in the first 5 minutes.
The Lady Trojans (25-4) held the Lady Hornets (25-1) at bay, forcing eight early turnovers in the game. Madi Story was also able to reach the free throw line and make 3-of-4 attempts.
Salisbury countered in the opening quarter by grabbing five offensive rebounds.
Despite their early success against the Lady Hornets, the Trojans shot 33 percent from the field in the first half. Madi and her sister, Jesse, struggled and made only 1-of-12 attempts in the half.
Madi managed to keep her team in the game in the first half, as she made 9-of-10 free throw shots. Those shots gave the Lady Trojans the lead for the first time in the game, 23-21.
The Lady Hornets regained the lead later in the quarter because of second chance opportunities created off offensive rebounds. The Lady Hornets had six of their 12 offensive rebounds in the first half. Salisbury held a 25-23 lead at halftime.
"We just needed to box out," said Bandys' Kailey Punch. "When we can do that, we can get up the floor and score. Tonight, our shots weren't on."
It was the third quarter that was the decider, and Blaire played a huge part in that. She scored five points in the first quarter after two early fouls.
However, Blaire roared back in the third quarter, scoring 11 points and helping her team go on an early 12-2 run to start the second half.
The Lady Trojans also went cold from the field in the second half, making only 3-of-20 attempts.
"Normally, we shoot on average 49 to 50 percent from the field as a team," said Queen. "Fifteen percent from the floor in the second half isn't going to get it done against Salisbury. I thought we got some good looks in the third quarter, but the ball just would not fall. It wasn't meant to be."
Bandys fought back in the final quarter and tried to counter by driving to the basket, drawing fouls and making free throws. The Lady Trojans finished 23-for-31 (74.2 percent) from the free throw line.
That wasn't enough to combat a cold shooting night for the Lady Trojans, in which they made 24 percent of their shots from the field. That shooting, combined with Blaire's performance, ended Bandys' season.
Blaire led the Lady Hornets with a game-high 21 points and six rebounds. Ashia Holmes added 13 points, and Olivia Rankin had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Madi Story led the Lady Trojans with 14 points and made 12-of-13 free throws. Tara Potter scored eight points and grabbed nine rebounds. Jesse Story, Taylor Sigmon and Chelsey Queen scored six points each.