DANBURY —The East Surry Lady Cards and Bishop McGuinness Lady Villains met on the hardwood for the third time this season with a shot at the Northwest 1A Athletic Conference Championship on the line.
After splitting their meetings in the regular season, the Villains staved off a second-half Cardinal comeback for a 53-50 win in the rubber match.
East Surry overcame a 34-16 halftime deficit and even led 48-46 late in the fourth quarter. But it was the Villains who scored the final five points of the game to advance to the championship game.
The top-seeded Mount Airy Lady Bears advanced to the championship game with a dominant win over North Stokes Tuesday. Mount Airy sat back and watched their potential opponents duke it out for a chance to end the Lady Bears’ undefeated conference streak.
Bishop (15-10, 7-3) defeated Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy 52-13 to advance to the conference semifinal. East Surry (13-12, 7-3) had a first round bye.
Despite leading for most of the first half, Bishop started off slowly. Two Villain turnovers allowed Cardinals Bethany Clayton and Dasia Lambert to put their team ahead 4-0.
The lead wouldn’t last, however, as back-to-back buckets for Bishop’s Bridget Simmons sparked a 15-2 run. The Villain defense forced East Surry to shoot outside and also snatched a number of turnovers.
The Villains made six 3-pointers in the game and three of them came in the first quarter. Emily Elliot, Elizabeth Knox, and Brianna Paul did the damage.
The Cardinals lone first-quarter triple came from Kalia Speaks. Bishop led 17-9 after eight minutes of play.
Things looked to be trending up for the Cards when Morgan Smith nailed a 3-pointer in the first minute of the second quarter. However, the Cardinals once again struggled to score, and were held to just seven points in the quarter.
Bishop’s defense continued to use turnovers in the second quarter to create instant offense. Their quick style of play allowed the Villains to score in transition or get to the foul line. The team shot 5-for-6 from the free-throw line in the second quarter.
East Surry didn’t make a field goal inside of 4:30. Its’ only points came from a Lambert free throw.
On the other hand, Bishop continued to make basket after basket, and led 34-16 at halftime.
No one player could bring the Cardinals back from an 18-point deficit, but a team could. The Cardinal defense stepped up as a whole and held Bishop to just eight points in the third quarter.
Unlike the first half, the Cards’ 3-pointers were dropping in the second. Clayton, Lambert, and Madison Bowman each had a triple in the quarter.
East Surry was playing with new life. The Cards were out-rebounding and outrunning the Villains. A 17-8 third quarter brought East Surry within single digits, down only 42-33.
Cardinal players didn’t let up on their comeback hopes in the fourth quarter. Bowman began the quarter with a 3-pointer and had another at 5:13 to force a Villain time-out.
Simmons and Elliott silenced the Cardinal crowd with early baskets, but couldn’t keep their opponent down. East Surry outscored Bishop 15-4 in the first 3:51 of the quarter and took a 48-46 lead off a Speaks 3-pointer.
Cammie Cooke tied the game at 48 with 3:58 remaining, but a steal and transition layup from Clayton put East back ahead.
Bowman had a big block with 2:02 remaining to keep the Cardinals’ lead alive. The problem for East Surry, however, was offense, as it was held scoreless in the final two minutes.
Knox got away from her defender and nailed a shot from downtown to regain the lead for Bishop with 40.8 seconds left on the clock.
East had time to set up a shot, but turned the ball over twice in the final minute.
Elliott went to the line for bonus free throws at 28.2. She made both and put the Villains up three points.
The Cardinals came out of a timeout with just under 20 seconds remaining needing to get three points to force overtime. In that span, the Cards couldn’t muster a shot and the game was over.
The Villains leading scorer was Elliott with 17 points, followed by Knox with 13, and Simmons with 12.
Clayton led the Cardinals with 13 points, followed by Bowman with 11, and Speaks with 10.
The 53-50 victory for Bishop gives the Villains another shot at Mount Airy. The Lady Bears won both meetings against Bishop, once by 15 points and then by 13 points.
The championship game for the girls will be held at 6:30 on Friday at North Stokes High School.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith