Newton-Conover’s chance to return to the Western Regional final — gone.
The Lady Red Devils (25-4) fell behind early to East Burke (19-9), but managed to take the game into overtime.
With the loss of senior leader Shynese Whitener to fouls, the LRDs fell behind late in the extra session and never caught up, falling 64-62 in the second round of the playoffs Wednesday.
“I’m proud of them,” N-C coach Ike Williams said of his team. “We had a great run. You have to give East Burke all the credit in the world. They came in with a good game plan, ready to play and played hard.”
The Lady Cavaliers pulled out to an early 15-9 lead behind five points and five rebounds from post player Bailey Gragg.
East Burke led the entire first half, taking a 25-23 lead into halftime.
Refocused from the short break, Newton-Conover fought back.
A Taylor Petty lay-up off a Dasia Tipps steal allowed N-C to take its first lead of the game at the 4:42 mark of the third quarter.
East Burke trailed by five entering the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers scored 20 points in the final quarter, and a late basket put them ahead 55-54 with less than 10 seconds left.
Petty drove down the court, was fouled and had a chance to win the game with no time remaining. She made one of two free-throw attempts to send the game into overtime.
“Any time Taylor is going to the line, my money is on her,” Williams said. “She is an 80-some-percent free-throw shooter. It just didn’t fall for her tonight.”
Losing Whitener to foul trouble also didn’t help N-C in the extra session. She exited the game with 32.4 seconds left in the fourth.
Led by five points from Lauren Arney in overtime, the Lady Cavaliers pulled away late, and a long two-pointer by Petty fell short at the buzzer.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” Williams said. “We missed some lay-ups and put-backs. Losing Shynese definitely hurt us, as well.”
Despite N-C’s playoff loss, Williams said he was proud of his team.
“I take nothing from our kids,” he said. “They are still the ‘Great Eight’ in my opinion. No one expected to do what they did. I can’t say enough. We got where we were because of their heart and what was inside of them. It may hurt tonight, but tomorrow, they are still great players.”