Saturday, March 6, 2010

Salisbury girls stay perfect, return to 2A final

GREENSBORO – At the start of the season, Salisbury’s girls basketball team, the reigning 2A state champions, set one goal and one goal only: go undefeated and win another state title.

Saturday, the Hornets put themselves in position to make their dreams come true, beating Newton-Conover 43-32 in the state semifinals to run their record to 28-0.

Salisbury, which has won 34 straight games dating to last season, will play East Bladen in next week’s 2A state championship at N.C. State. Salisbury will try to win its third state title since 2004 and finish its second perfect season in that span. The 2004 team went 31-0.

“Unless we win state,” coach Andrew Mitchell said, “we feel like it’s a missed (opportunity) for us.”

In two regional games this week against two of the best four teams in the western half of the state, Mitchell’s team put on a defense clinic. In the 45-31 semifinal win over Catawba Bandys (26-4), Salisbury allowed 19 first half points and limited Bandys to 26.7 percent shooting.

In Saturday’s final, Newton-Conover (28-4) to 33 percent shooting and only nine first half points. Good thing because Salisbury only shot 29.4 percent for the game.

Newton-Conover got 11 points and 7 rebounds from Kadesha Gibbs. Regional MVP Bubbles Phifer had 15 points and 8 rebounds for Salisbury. Jessica Heilig had a game-high 12 rebounds.

“When you get in a big open coliseum like this, you will struggle some on offense,” Mitchell said. “We said if we had to play ugly that was OK, but we wanted to make them play a little uglier and if we did that, we’d be OK.”

Newton-Conover 4 5 13 10 -- 32
Salisbury 15 8 9 11 – 43
NEWTON-CONOVER 32 – Littlejohn 9, Whitener 6, Kadesha Gibbs 11, Lewis 4, Pitts 2
SALISBURY 43 – Holmes 9, Shanequa Phifer 15, Holmes 2, Olivia Rankin 12, Heilig 3, Miller 2
All-Regional Team: Olivia Rankin, Salisbury; Ashia Holmes, Salisbury; Kadesha Gibbs, Newton-Conover; Shynese Whitener, Newton-Conover; Matrice Sweezy, Shelby