HIGH POINT — The Andrews girls missed their first five shots, then traveled four times while trailing 12-0 to North Wilkes.
But the Red Raiders, trailing 26-17, allowed only eight points in the second half for a 50-34 win in the NCHSAA 2A second-round playoff game on Thursday at their home court.
“My biggest takeaway is just — it’s nothing new,” said Andrews coach John Shearin. “We have to execute. It’s the playoffs, so teams are going to come in with a game plan and they are going to look to execute themselves. We just have to be better at executing than the other team.”
Andrews, the No. 6 seed, will face No. 3 seed Salisbury, which defeated No. 14 Forbush 48-37. It marks the first time Andrews reached the third round since doing it twice in a row in 2019 and 2020.
Early in the second half, the Vikings’ leading scorer, Kate Brown, made an and-one free throw to put up the last of her 14 points, making the score 29-17.
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Entering the game, the Andrews (22-4) defense had averaged 29.48 points allowed per game, while North Wilkes (23-6) had averaged 55.8 points scored.
But Andrews brought more consistent ball pressure and showed patience during a 16-5 third-quarter run. Heaven Briggs scored the first two of her six points and Senai Johnson made a shot inside off a free throw rebound, a bank shot from the left side and another inside basket to pull within 29-25.
“When we move the ball a lot and not just hold it, we tend to get a lot of the drives and shots that we want, but when we sit there and just hold it, we don’t get what we need,” Johnson said.
After an inside floater from Jurnee Flowers and a 3-pointer by Jahniya Butler, the Mid-State 2A Conference champions got within one.
Two free throws from Johnson tied the game with 25.7 seconds remaining in the third quarter. This was the first tie since the Vikings’ first basket.
At the third quarter buzzer, Flowers hit a mid-range floater to take Andrews’ first lead at 33-31. It wouldn’t give up the lead the rest of the way.
Shearin said the biggest challenge posed by North Wilkes was its well-organized operation, led by Coach Steven Phillips, whom he frequently talks to at scrimmages. Familiar with Phillips, Shearin anticipated the Vikings’ 1-3-1 zone defense but felt like his team came out lax in the first half.
“He put a tall, athletic kid up top, which makes it very difficult,” Shearin said. “Usually guards are smaller. It makes it very difficult for them to see across and that type of thing. Like I said, he is a great coach, so we knew we had our hands full.”
Flowers, who scored only two first-half points, and Johnson both led the Red Raiders with 12 points.
“The way I was feeling at halftime, I was like, ‘I don’t want to go home in the second round again’ because last year, we made it to the second round and lost,” Johnson said. “So that was my motivation and our point guard said to pick up our energy, so we picked up our energy. Then things started shaking and we pulled the game out and I’m happy about that.”