Thirteen was an unlucky number for the Bandys girls basketball team Saturday in the 2A West Regional finals in Greensboro.
Bandys, which led Wilkes Central by 13 points at halftime, scored 13 second-half points on its way to falling to the Lady Eagles by 13, 58-45.
The Lady Trojans finish their season at 28-3.
"It's difficult to lose, especially when you are leading at halftime," said Bandys coach Beth Queen. "To come out, lose the lead in the second half and not be able to regain focus was frustrating. You have to give Wilkes Central credit and its defense in the second half. It's been a long time since we scored 13 points in the second half."
Bandys built its 13-point halftime lead by out-rebounding Wilkes Central, 21-15. Chelsey Queen also connected on two late three-pointers to push the Lady Trojans' advantage heading into the break.
Many Lady Trojans were elated at their early performance.
"I was excited," said Chelsey Queen. "I felt like we could take that momentum into the second half."
Instead, Wilkes Central came out of the locker room to score 11 consecutive points, including three lay-ups from forward Haley Williams and two from Martha Mastin.
"Both of those kids really hurt us in the second half," coach Queen said. "Wilkes Central got really aggressive in that run and we had trouble scoring. They fueled off of that, which is what you want to do. They went for the jugular at that point. They started cutting it from 12 to 10 to eight to six points. We could just feel it slipping away. We tried several different things and couldn't put it in the hole."
After Wilkes Central was out-rebounded by six in the first half, Mastin, who was named the West Regional's Most Valuable Player, grabbed 15 rebounds to help the Lady Eagles win the second half rebounding margin, 23-15.
Taylor Sigmon said both Williams and Mastin were extremely difficult to defend.
"(Mastin) seemed like she was in the right place at the right time," Sigmon said. "It seemed like every time. They did a really good job. Her and (Haley Williams) congested the lane a lot. It made it hard to rebound over them. They just did a good job on the boards. When they have two really good girls, it was hard to battle with them."
On the opposite end of the court, Bandys struggled to connect on shots, shooting 15.4 percent from the field for the second half.
"I think it gave them the momentum," coach Queen said. "We had shots. They just didn't fall. That gave them the momentum and the confidence. They got on a roll, and we just never could score with consistency to get our focus back. We made a few turnovers in that stretch that we don't make. It got a little frustrating."
With Bandys trying to foul in the fourth quarter to get back into the game, the Lady Eagles remained clutch down the stretch, making 16-of-18 free-throw attempts to seal a trip the 2A state championship game in Raleigh next Saturday against Jordan-Matthews High School.
"I expected that from them," coach Queen said of Wilkes Central's free-throw performance. "I knew if we had to foul from behind to catch up that we were in trouble. They shoot free throws well."
The senior class graduating from the Bandys girls basketball team — including seniors Queen, Sigmon, Jesse Story and Chandler Griffith — finishes its career with a record of 101-18 on the court.
Queen said she is proud of her senior players.
"I think it is always special with this group," coach Queen said. "I started with them when they were so young. Any time you make it to the regionals three times in a row, no matter what team it is, it's special. I would go into battle with these kids any time. They are like my own. We've had a great run, and it's been fun over the years. They are good players, but more importantly they are good people. They are champions in the game of life, and they are going to move on and be successful."
All-2A West Region team
Brittany Moss, Bandys
Madi Story, Bandys
Katie Ryder, Wilkes Central
Haley Williams, Wilkes Central
Paige Love, Wilkes Central
Most Valuable Player
Martha Mastin, Wilkes Central