Gracie Beane of Randleman makes a pass in the second half against Hendersonville in Thursday night’s Class 2-A state playoffs. (PJ Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)
RANDLEMAN – A great start and a splendid second-half span were enough to extend the season for Randleman’s girls’ basketball team.
The Tigers did enough in between in the Class 2-A second-round game to defeat visiting Hendersonville 63-54 on Thursday night.
“Give (our players) credit for coming ready to play,” Randleman coach Brandon Varner said. “We did a lot of great stuff.”
That came in large doses in the opening minutes and in a game-deciding stretch in the third quarter.
As a result, Randleman (26-1), the top-seeded team in the West Region, will meet eighth-seeded East Rutherford (27-2), an 88-54 winner against North Stanly, at 2 p.m. Saturday at home in the third round.
“From here on, every team is good,” senior guard Jordan Booker said.
And so are the Tigers, proving so during various situations against Hendersonville (18-10).
The game began with Randleman scoring the first 14 points. With center Graycn Hall picking up two fouls and going to the bench, the lead evaporated and the Bearcats, who went more than six minutes without a point, were within a point in the second quarter. The Tigers kept the lead, heading to halftime ahead 25-23.
But Hendersonville tied the game a couple of times in the third quarter. Then at 35-35, senior Elizabeth York took over.
“I was definitely giving more effort than usual, which is embarrassing to say,” York said. “But I wasn’t going to let this be my last game.”
She scored the next eight points on a field goal, a three-point play and a 3-point shot. Hall added a putback off an offensive rebound before perhaps the most exciting sequence of the game.
Randleman secured a defensive rebound with about four seconds left in the quarter. A couple of passes later, York had the ball and flung up a desperation shot for a crowd-pleasing, unorthodox basket at the buzzer and a 47-37 lead.
It was nearly a no-look shot, though York said she glanced “for a second” toward the basket.
York converted another three-point play early in the fourth quarter and the Tigers eventually went up by 19 points.
“We knew we were the better team,” Booker said. “We had to play together and play like we can and it worked out.”
In the third quarter, Randleman switched from a zone and some specialty defenses to man-to-man. Varner said he liked how the Tigers handled the adjustment.
“These girls are battle-tested and have played a lot of basketball,” he said.
Hall finished with 24 points and York had 22 points. AJ Jackson had 15 of her 22 points in the first half for Hendersonville.
The Tigers also collected a valuable lesson, further understanding to avoid letting up.
“We got too comfortable with our lead,” York said. “It’s going to get tougher and tougher as Coach Varner says.”
So the Tigers know there’s no easy paths to keeping the season alive.
“They’re all good now,” Varner said. “You’ve got to show up and play your best.”
** Shelby 61, Southwestern Randolph 27: At Shelby, the 15th-seeded Cougars (19-9) fell into an 18-2 hole and didn’t recover at No. 2 seed Shelby (25-1) in Class 2-A.
At Ramseur, Brecken Snotherly scored 27 points and No. 5 seed Eastern Randolph stopped No. 12 seed Rosman 53-40
Kenly Whitaker poured in 17 points for host Eastern Randolph (19-7), which trailed 27-24 at halftime. A 13-3 advantage in the third quarter turned the momentum.
Snotherly, who made three 3-pointers, also had 12 rebounds.
The Wildcats will be home again Saturday against No. 13 seed Robbinsville (19-8), a 71-66 winner vs. fourth-seeded Albemarle.
Rosman finished with a 23-6 record.
** Bessemer City 46, Uwharrie Charter Academy 39: At Bessemer, the visiting Eagles nearly recovered from an early 15-point hole, closing to within 20-19 at halftime, but they couldn’t complete the comeback against seventh-seeded Bessemer City (21-6).
No. 23 seed UCA ended with a 12-16 record.