Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 27, 2013

SALISBURY — Brielle Blaire was Brielle Blaire — 31 points and 20 rebounds — and Daterria Connor showed some senior poise when it mattered most.
The result was Salisbury’s 59-58 overtime win at North Rowan on Saturday that left girls breathless and coaches speechless.
It was Connor who was fouled as she started a drive 22 feet from the hoop with 4.9 seconds left in overtime, and she walked slowly to the foul line to try to break a 58-all tie.
“What I was thinking was ‘Oh Lord, this game is depending on me,’ ” Connor said. “I had two shots and I was like, ‘I’ve got to make one.’ ”
She did. She calmly swished the first free throw — the nets barely moved — but then she was short on her second try.
Still, Salisbury led by one, and that slim point held up when Bryanna Caldwell knocked down North’s long pass. Connor came up with the ball, and the relieved Hornets (9-8) celebrated.
For the second time this season, a mostly young North team had the experienced Hornets on the ropes. And for the second time, the Hornets escaped. SHS has beaten the Cavaliers 19 straight times.
Salisbury, to put it as nicely as possible, was awful in the first half, shooting 22 percent and turning the ball over 18 times. North (7-7) jumped out 10-2 but didn’t bury the Hornets when it had the chance.
“We’ve jumped on a lot of teams, but we haven’t finished them off,” North coach Brian Lytton said. “We get people down but don’t keep them down. It’s not like Salisbury was going to quit, but we missed easy shots and we missed free throws and we let them get back in it.”
With all its first-half struggles, Salisbury got to the locker room down only 23-22 when Blaire drilled a wide-open 3 and then made the shot of the game with an amazing, on-the-run 3-ball that beat the halftime horn.
“We came out flat and slow and couldn’t get anything right,” said Salisbury coach Tony Hillian, who piloted the Cavaliers last season. “We played bad and North gave us their best shot, but then when were only down one at halftime, we felt very blessed.”
North freshman Special Washington had nine of her 24 points in the third quarter, but Connor also had a great quarter, and she pushed the Hornets to a 36-35 lead.
“At the beginning of the game we had too many turnovers and let North have too many easy drives,” Connor said. “They were playing their game and we weren’t playing ours. But the shot Brielle made before the half really helped us a lot, and we played a lot better in the second half.”
Salisbury built an eight-point lead with three minutes left in regulation, but North wasn’t done. Washington splashed a 3, Amber Carter nailed two free throws, and Demeria Robinson scored on a drive, and it was tight again.
When Blaire stuck back a miss by Nyasia Harris with 55 seconds left, the Hornets led 52-49. But Robinson scored on a follow shot with 10 seconds left to cut North’s deficit to one.
North had to foul, but Ashley Blaire missed a free throw with 8.3 seconds left, and after a scramble for the rebound, Robinson was fouled in the backcourt with 1.5 seconds left. Robinson had a chance to win the game. She tied it by sinking her first free throw, but when she missed her second and the Hornets missed a desperate heave, the exhausted teams headed for overtime.
Vashti Usry scored for SHS in OT. Robinson answered.
Taylor Sells made her only bucket for a North lead, but Brielle Blaire scored to tie it.
Caldwell’s drive put the Hornets on top 58-56, but with 20 seconds left in OT, Washington battled for two more.
The last SHS possession of the night wound up in Connor’s hands, and she came through.
“When we were down we kept saying, ‘C’mon, this is North Rowan and we’ve got to pull this out,’ ” Connor said. “We did it, but now I feel like crying because it’s the last time I’ll ever play them.”
Lytton also had to feel like crying.
“Our young girls have done remarkably well adjusting to the speed and the physical play of the varsity game,” he said. “We’ve made a lot of progress, but we’re still not there yet.”

SALISBURY(59) — B. Blaire 31, Connor 12, Usry 5, A. Blaire 5, Harris 4, Caldwell 2, Harmon.
NORTH ROWAN (58) — Washington 24, Robinson 18, Royer 7, Carter 4, Farmer 3, Sells 2, Lingle.

Salisbury 12 10 14 16 7 — 59
North Rowan 16 7 12 17 6 — 58