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Wildcats hold off Cavs


South Davidson’s Addie Grubb pulls in a rebound above North Rowan’s Taylor Sells (left) and Amber Carter during their second-round state playoff game Wednesday night at South. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)


DENTON | South Davidon’s trademark full-court press wasn’t working, and its offense was struggling mightily against North Rowan’s zone.

So the Wildcats went to the last resort — free throw line defense.

The Cavaliers shot an abysmal 1-for-13 from the charity stripe, and the Wildcats made just enough plays to pull out a 45-40 victory in the second round of the 1-A state playoffs in Denton on Wednesday. South (25-2) tied the school record for wins, and advanced beyond the second round for the first time since 1999. The Wildcats host Lake Norman Charter on Friday, with the winner advancing to next week’s regional championships in Greensboro.

This one wasn’t easy. The Cavs had no trouble breaking South’s press, and North’s zone slowed the game down. The Wildcats never could shoot them out of the zone, and kept things interesting until the final two minutes. “They’re fast,” South coach Fonda Jackson conceded. “Usually our press does a little better, but it just seemed like we were a step slow tonight.

“And our rebounding wasn’t where it usually is. That fight, you know?”

North Rowan certainly put up more of a fight than the home crowd expected, especially after the Wildcats drubbed North by 20 two weeks ago. North coach Brian Lytton, whose team finished at 13-12, devised a plan that worked to perfection. “The intent was to slow them down,” Lytton said. “And force them to shoot from the perimeter. A lot of their shots are 10-15 foot jump shots.

“And they’re so good at penetrating and kicking. What they do is what we want to do. And when we get better, we’re gonna be as good at it as they are.”

South threatened to blow the Cavaliers out of the building in the fourth quarter. Madi Beeson drained a 3 from the corner, then Larsen Sigmon found Holly Wall in the lane for an easy bucket. Just like that, the Wildcats led 10-2 midway through the first quarter. But the Cavaliers responded, and Demeria Robinson’s layin at the buzzer capped off a 5-0 run that got the visitors within 10-7. North never let the Wildcats run away from them from there, and South led 20-16 at the half and 30-28 after three. The Wildcats could have been in serious trouble, but Addie Grubb came up with some huge plays at key moments — knocking down a trey from the corner and following up a miss with a put-back right after her deflection caused a North turnover.

The Cavs actually put together one final charge, grabbing a 35-34 lead midway through the fourth on Taylor Sells’ triple from the corner. But Grubb sank two free throws on South’s next possession, and Larsen Sigmon rolled off a screen and hit a 17-footer for a 38-35 South lead. Sells knotted things up with a carbon-copy 3-pointer from the same spot, but Hunter Sigmon countered with a 3 to put the Wildcats up for good. Sells had a clean look at another 3 with 1:30 left, but it was off the mark and Grubb pulled down the rebound. South hit 4-of-5 free throws in the final minute, and North couldn’t mount another rally.

Lytton recognized how big his team’s struggles from the free throw line turned out to be. “You know, it’s been a struggle all season,” he said. “It reached the point where it was a mental thing.

“My girls are good shooters, they can shoot the ball.”

After South waltzed through the Yadkin Valley Conference unscathed, Jackson was actually happy to get pushed to the limit. “I told them it was good for them,” she said. “From here on in, you’re not blowing anybody out. You’ve got to learn how to keep your composure and win the tight ones.”

Wall and Hunter Sigmon led the Wildcats with nine points each, and Larsen Sigmon added eight. Aliyah Farmer led all scorers with 14 for the Cavs, while Robinson added 11.



Jason Queen can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 220 or jason.queen@the-dispatch.com.