Region return: Newton-Conover wins Sectional title behind Tipps' shot, strong fourth quarter

Newton-Conover blew open a six-point halftime lead in the third quarter and scored 10 straight points in the fourth quarter, on their way to a win over East Burke.

The Lady Red Devils (24-3) defeated the Lady Cavaliers (20-9) 61-42,on Friday to advance to their second straight Western 2A Regional in Greensboro next week. Newton-Conover joins Bandys (27-3), Thomasville (23-6) and defending state champion Salisbury (24-1).

The Lady Red devils will either face Salisbury or Thomasville in the first round of regionals. The North Carolina High School Athletic Association announces pairings Saturday.

The Lady Red Devils followed their game plan to score the sectional final win.

"We wanted to spread the floor, get them to put us on the foul line and play us man-to-man," said N-C coach Jonathan Tharpe. "We knew if they did that, it was our advantage. We were fortunate enough to do those things and come out with a victory."

East Burke and Newton-Conover battled early in the game, trading the lead several times. The Lady Cavaliers got the early edge in the first quarter, as they led 11-10. Much of that was due to point guard Alicia Byrd, who scored seven points early.

"At the beginning of the game, we knew both teams were going to go at it," Tharpe said. "They were going to come out fired up and both teams are going to the things they are good at."

The Lady Red Devils regained their composure and the lead in the second quarter. Kadesha Gibbs led the way in the post. She made great backdoor cuts to the basket, collected passes from guard Briana Alston, and scored six points.

"I just read my teammates," Gibbs said. "I just looked at where they wanted me to go, and I went to that spot. We just read each other well."

Newton-Conover went into halftime with a six-point lead, but Tharpe knew the next quarter of play would be crucial.

"The first key for us was coming out in the third quarter," Tharpe said. "We scored twice and took a timeout. I told the girls then that it was important that we get the ball back and score again. We did what we were supposed to do at the beginning of the third, but then we got sloppy."

East Burke clawed back into the game and cut the lead to eight points. Emily Green scored four points in the run and Alicia Byrd scored three, as the Lady Cavaliers grabbed the momentum.

However, Newton-Conover's Quazzy Tipps silenced the crowed with an amazing 3-point shot at the third-quarter buzzed. She was fouled on the shot, and the Lady Red Devils collected the momentum again.

"That was one of many turning points in the game," Tharpe said. "That sucks all the wind, motivation and energy out of a team. Especially when a team is working that hard to get back into the game."

Tipps said experience helped her deliver the shot, launched two feet beyond the 3-point arch.

"We have been in situations like that," Tipps said. "I just knew I had to follow through. That is what I did, and I knocked it down."

Newton-Conover carried the momentum from the shot into the fourth quarter, as the Lady Red Devils scored 10 straight points. That took an 11-point lead at the end of the third quarter and grew it to 21 points.

"The first game we played East Burke, we had energy and movement offensively that we had here tonight," Tharpe said. "The second game we played them, we did not move, attack the basket or get to the foul line. You can't do that against a good team."

East Burke cut the lead down throughout the quarter, but they would only get as close as 16 points.

Gibbs led the Lady Red Devils with 14 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Alston added nine points and seven assists, most of them to Gibbs. Tipps scored 12 points.