Lady Red Devils' upperclassmen, sophomore Geddes aid in pulling out 64-46 victory over West Lincoln on Friday for 'Senior Night'

The Lady Red Devils’ varsity basketball team recognized its 4 seniors on Friday, Feb. 5, after the 60-46 win over West Lincoln. Pictured from left to right: (front row) Grace Loftin, Nalece Duncan, Mia Powell and Jayla Woods. (back row) assistants Colton Medlin, Tasha Redmon, Katie Stillwell, head coach Sylvia White and assistant Jennifer Canrobert. (O-N-E photo by Michelle Thompson) Lady Red Devils’ sophomore point guard Cassidy Geddes (10) scored 10 of her 15 total points in the 4th quarter. (O-N-E photo by Michelle Thompson)Lady Red Devils’ Mia Powell (44) connecting on a triple in the second half of Friday’s win. (O-N-E photo by Michelle Thompson)
Marcus Smith
Sports Editor

It was a special night for Newton-Conover's varsity girls basketball team on Friday night as it recognized its senior players.

Coming into the match-up, the Lady Red Devils escaped a narrow finish with rival Bandys (6-4) on Feb. 2, 53-49.

Unbeknownst to the hosts in its next encounter, it would be in for a battle early with West Lincoln as the challenger wanted to spoil the Lady Red Devils' night.

Barring an early deficit in the first quarter, 15-6, the Lady Red Devils (10-0) stayed calm and came away the victors, 64-46.

Following the win, it honored its four seniors: forward Grace Loftin, guard Jayla Woods, forward Nalece Duncan and guard/forward Mia Powell.

These four players, along with sophomore point guard Cassidy Geddes, junior center Emma Fox and junior forward Hannah Watkins, were instrumental in bringing the team back from the brink.

“You never have a team that has a run or is successful..without senior leadership,” said Lady Red Devils head coach Sylvia White. “Senior leadership comes from the player that plays the most to the kid that plays the least, and we got four seniors that...want to win four more basketball games, and then they want to play as long as they can.

“At this point in their career, the three years, basically none of them's played four, they've all played three; they have so far (been) undefeated in the [South Fork 2A] conference. I don't think we've ever had a team or group that can truly say that. The team we had last year couldn't say that...That's a feat in (of) itself. To be where we are right now, and we just hope and pray that the good Lord let's us stay healthy and our kids keep their heads where they are and keep getting better.”

As the first quarter began, the Lady Rebels (4-6) were aggressive and jumped out to a quick lead led by junior forward Farrah Robinson, freshman center Carolina Robinson and sophomore point guard Chloe Norman.

Richardson connected on the opening basket via an attack at the rim followed by a pair of free-throws by Robinson, leading 4-0 with 6:22 left in the frame. Then, with 4:06 remaining in the first quarter, Norman knocked down a big triple on a swing pass to move ahead, 7-0.

In terms of the Lady Red Devils, it couldn't seem to hit the broad side of a barn in the period as it finished the quarter going 2-for-21, despite having several good looks at the rim from Loftin and with the deep ball from Woods and Geddes.

Trailing 9-2, the home team finally found its way on the board via an under the basket layup by Fox off of a Loftin assist (which would be a trend down the stretch) with 2:30 left in the period.

The Lady Rebels responded with a 4-0 run to lead, 13-2 at the time, before Loftin halted this momentum with a pair of makes at the charity stripe with 1:15 left in the quarter.

The final basket in the period for the hosts came via Woods (who finished the contest with six points, four steals, two assists and a pair of rebounds).

“The first quarter I said, 'We are getting the shots we want. There is nothing wrong with what we're doing,'” said White. “Matter of fact, we executed our offense probably better than we've executed in three or four games. The shots just didn't fall. That's the part you can't control.

“The part I wasn't happy about is the rebounding that first quarter. I said, “We got to do a better job on the boards.' Which we did better in the second quarter...but that was the thing that we talked about. I did look at the scoreboard; I knew they were up by like 12-0 (in the first), but I didn't tell our kids to ever look at the scoreboard. I tell our kids just to keep doing.”

Entering the second quarter, the momentum began to ramp up for the Lady Red Devils as Powell connected on the opening shot by way of a triple to get within striking distance, 15-9, in just 15 seconds of play.

Defensively, Geddes pressured the ball and forced a Lady Rebel turnover on the next play. Then, the Loftin-to-Fox exchange continued as Loftin dished it off to Fox in the paint once more to cut the lead to 15-11 with 6:20 left in the half.

Geddes then forced another turnover, this time on Chapman, with 5:46 left to play in the period. Richardson countered with a pair of free-throws to give the Lady Rebels a 17-11 advantage.

The home team responded with another Fox finish. However, it was not Loftin but Watkins who found Fox on a drive to the hoop for the And-1 finish. She missed the conversion from the foul line, but Newton-Conover trailed by only four, 17-13, with 5:35 remaining.

On the ensuing play – with the momentum completely in the Lady Red Devils' favor – Loftin corralled a steal. This led to her dishing it out to Geddes for the open 3-pointer on the right side to cut the lead to the closest it had been on the night, 17-16, with 4:30 remaining.

Chapman then tied things up at 17-all at the foul line before the Lady Red Devils continued its trend of scoring.

The Lady Red Devils finally gained its first lead of the night on another And-1 finish. This time, however, it was Fox repaying Loftin. Loftin connected on the foul shot to move ahead, 19-18, with 4:06 left to play in the half.

Nevertheless, the Lady Rebels responded with its only field goal in the quarter on an jumper by guard Brooke Beddingfield.

Including Loftin's And-1 conversion and Beddingfield's two-pointer, the Lady Red Devils closed out the quarter on a 10-2 run. Two more key plays for the hosts came via another Loftin dime to Fox at the rim to move it ahead, 27-20, with 30 seconds left.

Not resting on her laurels, Geddes collected her second steal of the night which led to an assist on Watkins' fastbreak lay-in with 10 seconds left before the break. The Lady Rebels couldn't counter and Newton-Conover carried a 29-20 lead into the locker room.

Moving into the third quarter, it was a tit-for-tat contest. Woods opened up the frame with a jumpshot assisted by Powell for a 31-20 lead with 7:30 left. Loftin then followed with an offensive putback to take a 33-20 lead.

Chapman responded for the Lady Rebels with the And-1 conversion on an assist by Richardson, trailing 33-23, with 6:45 left in the quarter. Chapman finished this contest with seven points and four assists. While, Richardson finished with 11 points and five boards.

Trailing by double-digits, the Lady Rebels cut this lead to single digits following an inside basket by Robinson, 33-25, with 5:45 remaining in the period.

The Lady Red Devils responded and were able to outscore West Lincoln, 10-8, to close out the frame. During this time, Geddes put her team back out ahead by 10, 37-27, on a fastbreak drive to the basket on an assist by Loftin (six assists on the night), with 3:50 left in the quarter.

Fox – who finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and a block – connected on a timely pair of free-throws (2-for-3) to move her team out in front, 39-29, with just under three minutes left in the frame.

Furthermore, Loftin extended the Lady Red Devils' lead 45-33 on offensive putbacks with the latter to close out the frame. Loftin finished the game with 15 points, 15 rebounds (five offensively), four steals, a block and six aforementioned assists.

Entering the final period, senior Nalece Duncan opened things up with a big steal and threw an outlet pass to Woods before she then dished it off to Geddes for a finish at the rim for two, 47-33, with 6:25 left to play.

Robinson countered with a trip to the foul line, converting both attempts to trail, 47-35, with 4:40 left in the game. On the following Lady Red Devil inbound pass, Norman swiped it away and converted at the basket for two more, 47-37, in five seconds time.

The Lady Red Devils responded with a triple by Geddes on an assist by Powell (who finished with six points, four assists, two boards and a block). West Lincoln combated this with a Richardson free-throw, along with an open Norman 3-pointer on the left side to cut the lead to 50-41 with four minutes to play.

Fox extended the Lady Red Devils' lead on the following play with another layup under the basket before Richardson countered with a triple to cut the lead once more, 52-44, with 3:09 left to play.

Powell responded with her second of two 3-pointers on the night on an assist by Watkins to push the lead to 55-44 with 2:40 remaining.

After a Norman response with a jumpshot, Geddes connected on her third triple of the night (second in the fourth quarter) on an assist by Loftin to go ahead by 12, 58-46, with two minutes left.

Geddes finished with 15 points (10 in the final quarter) along with six steals. Loftin, Geddes and Woods closed out the contest with the team's final six points.

Loftin converted a pair of free-throws with 1:30 left before Geddes collected a takeaway and finish at the rim with just over a minute remaining. Woods hit the final dagger within 15 feet in the victory with about 30 seconds left in the game.

“They're feisty,” said White of the Lady Rebels. “We from last week when they played Maiden, and they got down like 12-0 and came back and won the game. So, we knew they would never stop. We knew they would not let down or let up at all, and they didn't.

“Every now and then, we get a little break down, and they (West Lincoln) knock it down. They shoot a ton of threes, and they make a lot of them. We countered with a couple of our own. Mia Powell hit a big one, Cassidy Geddes hit a big one. We had some good baskets fall. Grace [Loftin] got to the free-throw line a couple times and knocked some down.”

Following the win, Newton-Conover will remain at home for a conference battle with Lake Norman Charter at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.