Thomasville girls cruise into third round
Wed. February 27, 2013 at 11:48 p.m. | By Wayne Hunt
Thomasville’s Joslyn Spires gets in front of Forest Hills’ Toynika Kirlend on a fast-break drive to the basket during their second-round state playoff game Wednesday night in Thomasville. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)
THOMASVILLE | Motivation is a powerful tool. It’s one of life’s great mysteries and it can propel average people to do great things.
That’s especially true in sports where motivation is one of those intangibles that every great coach, every great player and every great team possesses.
For Thomasville’s Christina Coleman, her great motivator is the fear of losing.
Haunted by memories of last year’s second-round playoff loss, Coleman paced the Bulldogs to a 10-point first-quarter lead en route to a 62-42 win over Forest Hills Wednesday night to advance to the third round of the 2A state playoffs.
Thomasville, the No. 3 seed in the Midwest region, rattled the visiting Yellow Jackets with a stifling press, forcing five turnovers in the first four minutes as the CCC regular season champions jumped out to an early 13-3 lead.
Six players scored in the first quarter as Thomasville’s press continued to convert turnover after turnover into Bulldog points.
Despite the balance, it was Coleman who keyed the pressure against Forest Hills, the No. 6 seed in the Midwest that advanced to the second round after a 79-72 win over Central Davidson.
Coleman had four steals from the middle of Thomasville’s full-court press in the first quarter to go along with seven points and two assists. After the game, she said her aggressiveness was motivated by losing.
“Before the game I thought about last year and how we got out in the second round. I didn’t want it to be a repeat so I was really motivated,” Coleman said in response to her big first quarter.
Thomasville never trailed as it extended a 17-9 first-quarter lead to as many as 18 in the second quarter before settling for a 36-23 halftime advantage.
The Bulldogs netted 20 points off turnovers in the first half, led by Coleman — who scored 15 of her game-high 23 points in the opening half.
Forest Hills was able to turn some sloppy Thomasville ball handling into nine consecutive points in the third quarter, trimming the deficit to 42-32 with 2:39 left in the quarter.
But the Yellow Jackets — who were visibly frustrated throughout the game — lost their composure and the Bulldogs regained control in the closing minutes of the stanza.
Forest Hills’ Shuntel Kirkland was called for an intentional foul for elbowing Coleman, who made both ensuing free throws at the 2:18 mark. Following Kirkland’s foul, Thomasville ran off 12 consecutive points, extending its lead to 22 points, three minutes into the fourth quarter.
During that Thomasville run, Joslyn Spires hit both ends of a 1-and-1 situation and both free throws after a technical foul against Forest Hills coach Eddie Rivers to end the quarter.
When Coleman nailed her final two baskets of the night to cap the 12-0 run, Thomasville had effectively ended the game as both coaches ran out a host of reserves in the closing minutes.
In addition to Coleman’s 23 points, Thomasville got 13 points from Spires as it improved to 19-5 on the season. The Bulldogs will travel to Mount Airy on Friday night for a third-round game against North Surry.
Forest Hills, which finished the season at 19-9, got a team-high 11 points from Ishemia Bivens.