Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 13, 2013
SALISBURY — Freshman Timber Tate’s game-winning stickback was one more step on what should be a fantastic career, but it was senior Joselyn Spires who made Thomasville’s 62-60 victory over Salisbury possible.
With the Bulldogs down three points with 20 seconds left on Tuesday, they needed a 3-pointer, and Spires gave it to them. She drained her shot with a hostile crowd screaming and the Hornets (12-11, 4-5), who had made a remarkable comeback of their own, on the verge of celebrating.
Spires probably was only person in a shaking gym who was still calm because the two teams had clawed and scratched and fought for 32 minutes.
“I’ve always got confidence,” Spires said. “Confidence in my shot. Confidence in my team. We’d never beaten Salisbury here, but it was our time. We’ve been getting closer and closer every year.”
Thomasville coach Brandon Staton watched his team weather a roller-coaster ride to stay tied for first place in the CCC. The Bulldogs (14-4, 7-2) trailed by six at halftime and they led by eight with five minutes to go.
It was Salisbury’s Senior Night, and seniors Da’Terria Connor and Danielle Harmon threw their hearts on the floor and provided talented junior Brielle Blaire (28 points, 18 rebounds, seven blocks) with the help she needed to make it a dogfight.
“Both teams played with great effort,” Staton said. “They went hard and we went hard and both teams were trying to play through a lot of fouls.”
Thomasville had annihilated Salisbury 65-40 in their first meeting, but Blaire was ready for the rematch and had 19 points by halftime.
The third quarter, however, belonged to Thomasville’s defense. The Hornets turned it over at a frantic pace and trailed 45-44 heading to the final eight minutes.
When Tate scored two of her 21 points on a steal for a 52-44 lead with five minutes left, the Hornets looked cooked — but they were far from done.
“At times we didn’t what we needed to do tonight and we turned the ball over too much,” Salisbury coach Tony Hillian said. “But my team gave me intensity. They gave me toughness, and they attacked. It’s a hard lesson, but sometimes you can do good things and it still doesn’t fall your way.”
When Blaire fired an unbelievable NBA bounce pass through the lane to Connor for a layup, the Hornets led by four with 1:15 left, and when Nyasia Harris finished on a great pass by Connor with 35 seconds left, Salisbury was on top 60-57.
But then Spires made her 3 to tie.
“Joselyn is our leader, and when we need that big basket, she steps up,” Staton said.
After the Bulldogs forced a turnover with 14 seconds left, Christina Coleman put up an open 3 from the left corner. She missed, but Tate stuck back the weakside rebound with less than a second left to win the game.
“It was like Salisbury was already thinking about overtime when that shot missed ,” Spires said. “They were just watching, and Tate put it in.”
THOMASVILLE (62) — Tate 21, Spires 18, Coleman 14, Thomas 8, Johnson 1, Kinley, Wilder, Bowden,
SALISBURY (60) — B. Blaire 28, Connor 12, A. Blaire 7, Harmon 7, Harris 6, Gloster, Riche, Caldwell.
Thomasville 17 13 15 17 — 62
Salisbury 18 18 8 16 — 60