NEWBERRY — The Newberry High School girls team got a monkey off its back Thursday night as the girls relied on defense and slashing drives to the lane to offset an off night by Tyshira Bates so they could advance past Carolina 71-37.
The Lady Bulldogs overcame adversity as an ill Arnesia Boyd was in and out of the line-up. To compensate, Coach Melissa Mendenhall challenged her big girls to elevate their inside games.
“Nigeria Davis put the team on her back in the second half,” Coach Mendenhall said.
The win got the Lady Bulldogs past the first round game bugaboo of recent seasons but she said the girls were trying to take it in stride and stay focused on their next opponent, Blacksburg. Mendenhall said Bates did a good job of being a slashing scorer on a night when her jump shot was not falling.
The Bulldogs only trailed 2-0. From there they went on a 9-1 run in the next four minutes, forcing the Lady Trojans to call a time-out.
In the next two minutes the Lady Bulldogs blew the game open with an 11-0 run. Newberry held Carolina to single digits in the first and fourth quarters, five and four points respectively, in their 71-37 victory.
Bates, Davis, Boyd and Felks each scored in all four quarters as they finished with 17, 17, 15 and 12 points respectively.
Octivai Grandy-Goodman scored six points while the Newberry scoring ended with the four points of Fatima Sims.
Newberry had 25 field shots compared to Carolina’s 15. Neither team was successful in making a three-point shot.
The Lady Bulldogs went 21-of-40 from the free-throw line while the Lady Trojans were seven-of-15.
Making possessions count
During the Newberry High School Lady Bulldogs’ opening round of their playoff game with Carolina High School last Thursday, a Lady Trojan parent yelled down to his daughter, ‘make every possession count’.
Possessions down the stretch with under three minutes remaining were the difference maker in the Bulldogs second round game against Blacksburg.
In a back and forth affair, neither team could build up any kind of lead beyond a single possession as the Lady Bulldogs led by a mere point after the first quarter, 16-15, but extended that to three points at the break, 32-29.
At halftime the Newberry coaches told their players to play with heart and attack inside.
“When we scouted Blacksburg, I said this game would come down to post play,” said head coach Melissa Mendenhall. “Blacksburg’s main plays were coming from the outside, so we had to challenge our girls. It came down to who wanted it most.”
Arnasia Boyd had four fouls and was on the bench for a stretch and eight minutes later, the teams were tied at 51.
With two minutes remaining in the game Mendenhall called time out and then she got Boyd back into the game and her coach said the guard played intense but under control the rest of the way.
With solid second half play from Nigeria Davis, an eighth-grader moved to the three spot, and big rebounds from Octavia Grandy-Goodman, the Bulldogs took the lead.
Blacksburg called its final time out with 18.3 seconds down 54-51. Arnasia Boyd was fouled after a steal with 10.6 seconds in the contest.
Boyd made both free throws to make it a two possession game and Newberry held on for the 56-51 victory.
Mendenhall said she challenged Kelsey Felks to run down the court full speed even though she was tired. That extra oomph helped separate the Bulldogs from Blacksburg.
“I felt like as long as we could get rebounds and put backs that we would be OK,” Mendenhall said.
Boyd led the Newberry scoring with 17 points while Tyshiria Bates had 14.
Like Bates and Boyd, Kelsey Felks also scored in each of the four quarters as she dropped in 11 points.
Octavia Grandy-Goodman and Nigeria Davis rounded out the Newberry scoring with seven points apiece.
With the Mid-Carolina crowd all but settled in also for the upcoming boys’ game, Newberry was playing in front of one of the largest home crowds they have played in front of all season.
The Bulldogs are looking for that fan support Tuesday at 7 p.m. when Pendleton comes calling. The Lady Bulldogs are a home win away Tuesday against Pendleton from playing for the upper state championship on Saturday in Greenville.