Red Devils stung again by Hornets

Same game, same opponent and same result.

The Newton-Conover Lady Red Devils' basketball team had their season ended by Salisbury for the second straight season. The Lady Hornets (26-1) won the Western Regional championship and will play East Bladen for the state title on Saturday.

N-C coach Jonathan Tharpe compared facing Salisbury the past two seasons.

"Their point guard ran the show last year," Tharpe said. "Even when we were able to make a run, she was able to pull them out of it. This year, it isn't just one kid. I think they have a little bit more weapons this year than they did last year."

The length of the Lady Hornets created problems for Newton-Conover (25-4) all game long. They were able to contain the Lady Red Devils from grabbing rebounds and forced many outside shots.

"It is hard to simulate some of that stuff in practice," Tharpe said. "You just have to go out on the court with confidence and knowing what you are doing. I thought we went out there and played as hard as we could."

Playing against their tremendous size was a new experience that post player Kadesha Gibbs had season.

"It was very difficult," Gibbs said. "You have two or three girls around you that have 2-3 inches on you. It was so difficult. It hasn't been like that all season."

The size caused the Lady Red Devils to shoot 2-for-12 from the field in the first half. However, they managed to make 8-of-11 free throw attempts to trail only 25-12 at halftime.

"Offensively is where we struggled," Tharpe said. "Defensively, I thought we played a good game. I think we did a much better job defensively than we did last year. Offensively, we had good looks and the ball wouldn't go in."

The Lady Red Devils powered back in the third quarter and managed to shoot the ball better. Shynese Whitener led her team with six points in the quarter.

"I think we got comfortable in the second half with their length," Tharpe said. "We made better passes in the second half. Unfortunately, it was just too late in the game by then."

Salisbury still had a 38-21 lead at the end of the third. Newton-Conover would cut the 17-point lead down in the fourth quarter, but couldn't manage to come back for the win.

"I am proud of these kids for fighting back,” Tharpe said. “They gave themselves a chance and that is all I can ask for."

Whitener led Newton-Conover with 11 points and seven rebounds. Quazzy Tipps and Tiana Littlejohn scored nine points each. Gibbs scored six points and grabbed 10 rebounds.