Prep Sectional Final: North Surry girls 68, Salisbury 52

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 24, 2012

By Ryan Bisesi
MOUNT AIRY — For the first time in four years, Salisbury’s girls’ basketball team didn’t end the season with a win.
All of the Hornets’ imposing streaks of playoff dominance concluded in a 68-52 loss at North Surry in the 2A West Sectional final.
Twenty straight playoff wins and three straight state titles came to an end at Ron King Gym when the Greyhounds took the lead in the first quarter and maintained it to advance to the regional for the first time since 1992.
“Tonight, (North) was just fundamentally sound,” Salisbury coach Chris McNeil said. “They had a guard that just controlled the entire game.”
That would be Morgan Midkiff. Along with Malaya Johnson, they were a deadly inside-outside combo for North. Midkiff hit three first-half 3s on the way to 21 points. Johnson, a sophomore center, scored 13 and grabbed 18 rebounds. North remained unbeaten on its home floor this year.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way we played,” North coach Shane Slate said.
Morgan Bunker scored 15 and snagged 11 rebounds for North, who was opportunistic on its extra chances. Kristina Rumplasch, who had 41 points in North’s second-round win, netted 14.
“We didn’t realize they had such a tremendous height advantage,” McNeil said. “They did a lot of passing over the top.”
Salisbury squeaked by North last year when it came to Mount Airy in one of its more dramatic wins of the season in the third round. Friday, North used a strong third quarter to pull away and keep the Hornets at bay.
Midkiff scored nine straight points that bridged into the second quarter. The senior guard hit a pair of 2s, a 3 and two free throws to give North a 21-14 lead.
“I thought Midkiff was determined at that point to make sure we didn’t get in any bigger hole and imposed her will,” Slate said.
As she had done all year, sophomore Brielle Blaire put the team on her back despite battling a stomach bug from earlier in the week. Blaire’s 18 first-half points kept the Hornets in it and overcome a slow night shooting. Salisbury was just 11 of 31 from the floor in the opening half. North hit on 13 of 29 shots from the field.
“(Blaire) had to work for all of her points,” Slate said. “We didn’t want her to have any easy ones.”
Salisbury scored the first six points on two Doreen Richardson buckets and a Blaire scoop. The Greyhounds tied it at 10, 12 and 14 before taking the lead for good on a basket from Midriff.
Rumplasch made it 25-16 on a 3 early in the second quarter. Another trey from Midkiff gave the Greyhounds a 32-21 edge with 3:08 left in the half. McNeil called timeout and the Hornets responded admirably with a 9-2 spurt to end the half. Blaire’s lay-in made it 36-31 at halftime.
“When you’ve got everybody against you like that, all you can do is play your game,” Blaire said. “That’s what we did.”
The Hornets hit their first three field goals of the second half to keep pace. A 3 from Blaire and two from Vashti Usry cut the deficit to 42-38. North (26-2) then scored the next 10 to gain the distance it would keep the rest of the night. Johnson started the run with an easy two and Bunker hit a layup off a steal on the ensuing possession.
“They moved the ball very well,” Richardson said. “I feel like they played together and had that cohesiveness.”
Richardson scored 16 points in her last game as a Hornet. The senior guard tried to keep the Hornets in it on a basket and two freebies to make it 57-48. North then went on another run as it scored the next seven.
“I’m proud of our team since a lot of people didn’t think we’d get this far,” Blaire said.
Salisbury finished the year 25-4 and went unbeaten in conference play during the regular season while taking the Moir Christmas Classic championship.
“Tonight wasn’t our night,” McNeil said. “It was North Surry’s night. But I’m still proud of the young ladies and the season we had.”
SALISBURY (52) — B. Blaire 26, Richardson 16, Usry 8, Caldwell 2, A. Blaire, Conner, Lattimore, Harmon.
NORTH SURRY (68) — Madkiff 21, Bunker 15, Rumplasch 14, Johnson 13, Cutler 3, Hawks 2, March, Hill.
Salisbury 14 17 10 11 — 52
N. Surry 19 17 16 16 — 68