Red Raiders secure first state title in girls hoops
When the free throw swished through the net with 18 seconds left to play, shooter Shamisha Farabee received a hug of joy from T. Wingate Andrews teammate Brie Grier.
The shot put the Red Raiders three ahead of Bandys, sparking the reality that their dream of winning the school’s first championship in girls basketball could possibly come to fruition.
With Farabee making another free throw, Kay Yow MVP selection Imani Watkins adding two for the last of her game-high 27 and Bandys unable to score in the final minute, Andrews made the dream come true by surprising the previously undefeated Trojans 57-51 for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A title at Reynolds Coliseum.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” senior Watkins said minutes after she helped the Red Raiders rally by scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter. “It feels good but it hasn’t set in that we made history. I’m glad to be part of this team. I’ve been here for four years. The amount of work we put in, it all makes sense now. There were days you’d go home and think ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ This feeling right here makes it all worth it.”
The Red Raiders (25-5) prevailed after being down 13 in the middle of third quarter and 10 early in the third. But they were faster than Bandys (31-1), which was known for an uptempo game — and were able to disrupt the Trojans with a trapping defense.
Andrews coach John Shearin said the Red Raiders, who also like to run, weren’t going to change their style, even it was against a team that scored 90 or more points seven time this season and 80 or more points on 12 other occasions.
“We never try to size ourselves up against anyone,” Andrews coach John Shearin said. “We know what we’re good at. We know what we have to and how we have to execute to win. We knew we needed to continue to run, we needed to continue to pressure the ball, we needed to continue to rebound. We know what we can do well and if they can match it, the best team will win.”
Andrews forced 18 Bandys turnovers and scored 14 points off of them. But the Red Raiders squandered a number of opportunities and trailed by seven going into the fourth quarter.
But the Red Raiders wiped that out by scoring the first eight points of the fourth quarter with a run capped by a Watkins layup to go up 45-44 with 5:30 to play, It was their first lead since 1:30 to play in the first quarter.
Bandy scored the next four before Watkins hit a 3 for a 48-48 tie. Another Watkins 3 made it 51-49 with just under two minutes to play. Sara Goble hit a bucket for Bandys, the last of her team-high 17 points, to make it 51-51, but that was the last scoring for the Trojans.
Watkins hit a jumper to give Andrews the lead at 53-51 with 33 seconds left, and she and Farabee added two free throws each after Bandy misfired on two possessions.
“I knew we had to get a stop,” said Watkins, who was backed by 10 points from Brie Grier and nine from Farabee. “We kept going back-and-forth. We got one stop and they did fold a little bit and we kept the pressure on and here we are.”
Andrews shot just 32 percent for the game but made enough shots at the end while Bandys made 3 of 14 shots in the fourth quarter. The Trojans shot 40 percent for the game,
“The biggest thing was our shooting,” Bandys coach Kyle Moretz said. “Both teams created turnovers on the other (Bandys forced 11) but the biggest thing was our fourth-quarter shooting. We were up and then we were outscored 13 in the fourth quarter. You can’t do that against a good team.”
Andrews jumped to a 9-5 lead early but didn’t react well when Bandy switched to a zone defense. The Trojans went on a 20-3 roll over the last four minutes of the first quarter and first five of the second to go up 25-12.
“During that run, we got out of character,” Shearin said, “We started to miss our (defensive) rotations. We started not to listen fully. look at the score and get into the ups and down of the game. We lost some of our focus.”
Andrews responded by scoring the last six points of the half to pull with four. Watkins said the Red Raiders were confident they could come back having overcome a double-digit deficit in their East regional championship game against Kinston.
“We had one or two people on the bench say ‘Oh, no.’ But, we picked them up and started playing our game,” Watkins said. “We’ve been here before. This is what we do.”