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Late surge sends Tide to semis

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Galax turned it on down the stretch to take a region quarterfinal win over Northwood.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

Determining the seeding for a regional girls’ basketball tournament may be an ambiguous process, but one thing seems clear:  a No. 7 needs more than three good quarters to get past a No. 2.

Second-seeded Galax came to life in the final eight minutes and put away a pesky Northwood 49-44 in the Region C Division 1 tournament Tuesday, advancing to Thursday’s semifinals and to within a win of a state tournament berth.

“We just didn’t play hard,” Galax coach Yerrick Stoneman said. “It was the first time all year that for three quarters, we didn’t play hard. I told them before the fourth quarter that we can win the ballgame if we can outplay them for one quarter, and we outplayed them in the fourth quarter more than they outplayed us for the first three.”

A miserable third-quarter shooting funk had Galax (13-12)trailing 31-27 entering the fourth before Allison White sparked a 14-4 run that would put the Maroon Tide in control. White drove the lane for a layup and completed the three-point play with 6:13 to go, giving Galax a 35-33 lead that it would not surrender.

White ended Northwood’s next possession with a steal, feeding Hailey Cassell for an easy layup, then stuck back an offensive rebound for a 39-33 advantage. Her bucket and foul shot off of a Bailey Shumate assist on a cut through the lane capped the rally with 2:34 to play, putting the Tide on top 46-37.

“Allison really stepped up and she was the key to the ballgame,” Stoneman said. “She got a couple of steals in our diamond press, she got a couple of and-ones, just made a big difference, and Hailey hit a couple of big threes for us in the second half.”

The Panthers (8-16) made a late charge with a 7-1 spurt and had possession of the ball trailing by three in the final 30 seconds but couldn’t cap the comeback.

Northwood trailed 16-10 early in the second quarter before junior post Tori Blevins got busy, scoring 10 points in the final five minutes of the first half, including three putbacks. Her basket underneath beat the halftime horn and sent the Panthers into the break with a 22-21 lead.

Galax was a chilly 2-of-21 from the floor in the third quarter while Blevins continued her tear, scoring all nine Panther points in the period. Her two free throws at the 3:04 mark had Northwood in front 31-24, but the Panthers didn’t score again in the third.

 “Our game plan was to do what we had been doing all year – putting pressure on the ball coming up the court, trap in the corners, but we came out flat. We weren’t ready to play,” said Stoneman, who had one day to prepare for an unfamiliar opponent.

“You can prepare for anybody in a day. I don’t think that was it. We knew what to expect from them. I got a lot of help from Grayson and Bland, they played them, and they told me that they will turn the ball over if you put pressure on them, but if we don’t score, we can’t pressure.”

Shumate knocked down two 3-pointers in the first four minutes, but Galax missed nine straight from long range until Cassell connected late in the third and again to start the fourth, cutting the seven-point gap to a single point.

Shumate scored Galax’s first eight points and led the Tide with 18 points. Cassell scored 12 and White added 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Northwood was all Blevins, who finished with 25 points and 20 boards.

Galax reached Thursday’s semifinals at Parry McCluer High School against Covington, with the winner punching its ticket to state. The finals are set for Saturday at 6 p.m., also at Parry McCluer.

 

Northwood......10  12  9  13––44

Galax...............14    7  6  22––49

 

Northwood (8-16)

Puckett 2 0-0 4, Armstrong 1 2-2 4, Isom 0 2-2 2, Cardwell 2 0-0 5, Blevins 9 7-10 25, Holmes 2 0-2 4. Totals 16 11-16 44.

Galax (13-12)

Shumate 7 1-2 18, Russell 1 0-0 2, White 4 3-4 11, Bryant 1 0-0 2, Cassell 5 0-0 12, Bobbitt 2 0-0 4. Totals 20 4-6 49.

 

Three-point field goals – Northwood 1-8 (Cardwell), Galax 5-24 (Shumate 3, Cassell 2). Rebounds – Northwood 46 (Blevins 19), Galax 37 (White 12). Turnovers – Northwood 19, Galax 13. Team fouls – Northwood 9, Galax 11. Fouled out – none. Technical fouls – none.