High school basketball playoffs: Salisbury girls hang on to defeat T.W. Andrews

Published 8:37 pm Saturday, February 25, 2023

By Mike London

SALISBURY — Salisbury head girls basketball coach Lakai Brice suddenly had two more assistant coaches than she wanted on Saturday afternoon — forward Mary Morgan and center Haley Dalton.

Morgan, the team’s rebounding leader, fouled out as the fourth quarter got under way. Dalton, a shot-blocker who was plagued by foul trouble most of the game, headed to the bench for good not long after Morgan had to sit.

“It got tough without both of those girls, it really did,” Brice said. “But we fought through it. We survived it. Now it’s in the past, and we’ll try to fix some things in practice on Monday.”

Third-seeded Salisbury did lots of fighting and surviving in a heated third-round game in the 2A state playoffs against sixth-seeded T.W. Andrews. Salisbury had some 18-point leads, but no lead was safe. The Hornets were fortunate to hang on 55-53. The Red Raiders missed a shot to tie in the final seconds.

The margin of victory turned out to be a layup by guard Shamya Arnold, the sixth person for the Hornets (24-3). Arnold played an awful lot of minutes on Saturday as did guard Torese Evans, who is the second Hornet off the bench,

“Those two did a great job on defense and helped us win,” Brice said. “Shamya made a huge layup.”

T.W. Andrews (22-5) came in a with a reputation as a stellar defensive team, yielding about 30 points per game.

The Hornets weren’t impressed and cut that vaunted defense to ribbons in the early going. The visitors were stunned by Salisbury’s Makayla Noble, tall and athletic. She scored 13 in the first half. When the Hornets went up 27-9 on a bucket by Noble a blowout seemed eminent, but the Red Raiders dug in and scored the last six of the half, including three on a desperate heave at the horn. The Hornets settled for a 27-15 halftime lead.

“In the first half, we ran our sets and got everything we wanted,” Brice said. “But they face-guarded Noble in the second half and they started double-teaming Kyla (Bryant) to get the ball out her hands. We talked at halftime about Andrews being a team that wasn’t going to quit, and they didn’t.”

Bryant led the Hornets on a run coming out of the locker room that pushed the lead back to 18 points at 33-15. It should have been over. T.W. Andrews didn’t get the memo and came back again.

“Andrews was a team that just wouldn’t die,” Brice said. “We couldn’t put them away.”

The visitors chopped Salisbury’s lead down to 45-32 by the end of the third quarter, but the Hornets still seemed to be in control.

But control and calmness disappeared as fouls mounted in the fourth quarter. Dalton and Morgan are the key to Salisbury’s interior defense, and Andrews was beginning to score more often with those two obstacles removed.

The Hornets were still up by a dozen with 5:05 remaining, but the lead was shrinking.

Bryant made big free throws to help the Hornets maintain a lead.

Icesis Nwafor made a layup with 1;05 remaining for a seven-point lead, but T.W. Andrews kept coming.

Arnold’s layup with about 20 seconds left made it 55-50, but Andrews came right back with a three-point play.

Salisbury fans couldn’t relax until the final second ticked off the clock.

The Hornets will play again on Tuesday.

TW Andrews    1     14    17    21    — 53

Salisbury          10   17     18    10   — 55

Salisbury — Bryant 18, Noble 15, Nwafor 7, Evans 5, Arnold 5, Dalton 3, Morgan 2.


See photo gallery from the game here: https://www.salisburypost.com/2023/02/25/photo-gallery-salisbury-girls-advance-after-escaping-with-55-53-victory/