Red Tornadoes oust Tigers, advance to title game

Four days after falling to Hickory on the road in the regular season finale, déjà vu struck the Fred T. Foard girls basketball team.

The Lady Tigers (14-10) lost 72-48 Tuesday in a game that mirrored a 72-54 loss to Hickory on Feb. 10.

Trailing 27-25 at the half, Hickory turned up its defense, outscoring Foard 23-7 in the third quarter.

Foard coach Brad Mangum said the quarter made a huge difference in deciding the winner of Tuesday’s game.

“We didn’t come out too hot, but we put together a good second quarter and were in the ball game,” Mangum said. “It was a two-point game. We came out and weren’t ready for the pressure in the third quarter. It turned out to cost us the game.”

Danasia Witherspoon led the Lady Red Tornadoes (22-1) with 20 points, including eight points in the third quarter.

Aja Hoyle added 19 points, and Farrah Young pitched in 13 points.

“We’re very excited,” Hickory coach Barbara Helms said about her team’s appearance in Friday’s NWC title game. “I thought it was a good game. I thought we did a good job in the second half of keeping our intensity up. I think that changed the flow of the game. Defensive pressure forced a lot of turnovers and led to many transition baskets for us.”

Hickory next takes on third-seeded South Caldwell, who pulled the upset by knocking off No. 2 Alexander Central, 39-35.

“We know a lot about them,” Helms said. “We’ve got to play hard. We keep pushing our kids about playing hard and playing tough on defense. That results in wins, if you do things right.”

Brooke Robinson led Foard with 19 points, while teammates Chelsea Turner and Kayla Whitworth added 13 and 11 points, respectively.

Eliminated from the NWC tournament, the Lady Tigers turn their attention to the 3A playoffs, which start next week.

“We’ve just got to put this loss behind us,” Mangum said. “It’s a tough loss and a game we wanted to win. We’ll find out who we play next week, prepare for them and go to work.”