With a balanced team effort and a strong third quarter, the Bandys girls basketball team punched its ticket to the Catawba Valley 2A championship game.
The Lady Trojans (24-1) knocked off East Burke (17-9) on Thursday to advance to their third meeting of the season against Newton-Conover (23-3) in Friday's CVAC girls championship game.
Following two East Burke three-pointers late in the first half, Bandys led by 10 points at the half, 38-28.
The Trojans immediately cranked up their defense to start the second half and out-rebounded the Lady Cavaliers 16-4 in the third quarter.
"East Burke can shoot the three. We all knew that," said Trojans coach Beth Queen. "They got two of those off at the end of the half, and we weren't real happy about that. We talked about it at halftime. We told them we had to eliminate those threes, the defensive intensity creates and I was really pleased with how the team responded."
Those rebounds led to 26 Bandys points, including 10 points from Jesse Story, who was 0-of-6 in the first half.
"She struggled in that first half," Queen said. "Her shot wasn't falling for her, but it started falling in the third quarter. When they don't fall, you keep shooting. Hopefully, the shots will fall and they did. Jesse did a good job in the third quarter."
Several Trojans played key roles early in the game. Chelsey Queen scored eight points in the first quarter, while Madi Story scored 12 of her game-high 20 points in the second quarter.
"I thought we played well as a team," Queen said. "I thought we had different players carry us in different quarters. Offensively, Chelsey carried us in the first quarter, Madi carried us in the second quarter and Jesse carried us in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, it seemed to be a little bit of everyone."
Bandys made 19-of-22 attempts at the free-throw line, including 13 straight makes at one point.
"We did shoot well from the line," Queen said. "We don't want the players to know it. It gets in their head sometimes. Even when you are shooting poorly or shooting well, we don't talk about it a lot. They'll read about it tomorrow."
The Trojans now meet the Red Devils. The teams split a pair of matchups earlier this season, with each team winning on the road.
A win gives the victor the Catawba Valley 2A tournament title and the regular season crown.
"It will be an intense game," Queen said. "We know they are tough. They rebound really well. They go to the glass really well. They shoot the three well. We have to bring that same defensive intensity Friday night that we brought tonight."