It was a good first round for the area, as eight of the 13 teams from the three local conferences advanced to Thursday’s second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s basketball tournament. Winners on Thursday advance to the state quarterfinals scheduled for Saturday.
Below is a look at Thursday’s matchups, as well as sites expected to stream the games.
No. 9 Newton-Conover (15-0) at No. 1 West Stokes (12-0) (West Stokes High School YouTube Channel) 6 p.m.
Thursday’s game between these two will feature a traditional state power —Newton-Conover — and a program that has a chance to contend for state title for the first time.
The Red Devils began defense of their 2A state co-championship with a 57-46 win at Pisgah on Tuesday. The Red Devils' "Big Three" accounted for 54 of the team’s points, led by Cassidy Geddes’ 28. Emma Fox had 14 and Grace Loftin added 12. The victory was their 36th in a row dating back to December 2019. This is the third straight year that Newton-Conover has advanced to the 2A's “Sweet 16” round and a win will put them into the regional semifinals for the 13th time in the program’s history.
West Stokes shut out Ledford in the first quarter and cruised to a 41-23 win in the first round on Tuesday. Senior Emma Santoro scored 22 points in the game with junior Hannah Davis putting in eight in the first quarter. It was the sixth time the Wildcats allowed fewer than 30 points in a game this season. The Wildcats have come a long way since going 10-53 over three seasons ending in 2017. They won 23 games last year before a second-round exit and now have a Western Piedmont 2A Conference title in hand. West Stokes is looking to reach the regional semifinals for the first time.
Next up: No. 11 R-S Central (11-3) or No. 5 Bunker Hill (11-0)
No. 11 R-S Central (11-3) at No. 5 Bunker Hill (11-0) (“Bunker Hill High School” Facebook page, fee required), 7 p.m.
Scoring machines from each team will square off in Round 2.
Bunker Hill overcame a slow start in its opening-round game to defeat North Davidson on Tuesday. The Bears trailed by as many as eight in the first quarter before Olivia Ellis found the hot hand outside and Damireona Burch came off the bench to muscle the Bears' post game. The team’s leading scorer Addie Wray (21 points per game this season) found a groove in the second half, tallying 16 of her 18 points. Now in the “Sweet 16” for the first time since 2009, with a win on Thursday the Bears would play in the regional semifinals for the first time since 2002.
R-S Central went on the road and took out No. 6 Forest Hills 75-71 in Tuesday’s first round. Senior Maddie Gillie, a Mars Hill signee who led the team in scoring (20.5 points per game) and rebounding (6.5 rebounds per game), had 30 points and 10 boards in the game. The Hilltoppers finished second in the Southwestern Athletic 2A Conference, with two of their three losses coming against unbeaten Shelby. The other came at 1A unbeaten Mitchell. R-S Central is looking for its first regional semifinal appearance since playing in the 2A West final in 2016.
Next up: No. 9 Newton-Conover (15-0) or No. 1 West Stokes (12-0)
No. 9 Asheville (12-2) at No. 1 Freedom (10-0) (FHS Live YouTube Channel), 6 p.m.
Freedom opened up a tight game late in the third quarter to outlast North Buncombe 48-35 in Tuesday’s first round. Senior teammates Adair Garrison and Danisha Hemphill each had 13 points to lead the way. This is the Patriots’ ninth visit to the round-of-16 in 12 seasons since dropping to a 3A school for the 2009-10 season. They have advanced past this round six of the previous eight times.
A 26-8 second quarter pushed Asheville on the way to a 56-33 rout of Cox Mill Tuesday in Concord. Sophomore Evangelia Paulk scored 23 points in the contest to put the Cougars in the round-of-16. It was the eighth time this season the Cougars held an opponent under 40 points. Asheville now looks to reach the regional semifinals for the first time since 2005.
Dating back to 2006, Freedom has won the previous seven games played against the Cougars, which includes a “Sweet 16” victory by the Patriots in 2019.
Next up: No. 12 Hickory (9-2) or No. 4 Ashbrook (12-1)
No. 12 Hickory (9-2) at No. 4 Ashbrook (12-1) (check for link at “Ashbrook High” Facebook page), 5:30 p.m.
Hickory used a 12-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters to take control of the game and defeat Northwest Cabarrus 53-38 on Tuesday. The point total was the fewest scored by the Trojans this season and it was the sixth time the Red Tornadoes held an opponent under 40 points in a game this season. The Red Tornadoes handled the pressure defense put up by the Trojans, often leading to easy baskets. Senior forward Finley Lefevers led the team with 13 points and Aysha Short added 11. The win puts the Red Tornadoes into the round-of-16 for the second year in a row and they are looking to get to the regional semifinal for the 17th time, but the first since winning the 3A state title in 2015.
Ashbrook rallied from seven down at halftime to get past visiting Alexander Central on Tuesday. The Green Wave had four players in double figures, including Shay Portee and Madison Cole, who each dropped in 14 points. The difference in the game was 23 points by Ashbrook off 27 turnovers. Ashbrook won the Big South Conference and is looking for its first regional semifinal appearance since making trips three seasons in a row from 2016 to 2018.
This will be the fourth playoff meeting between the two programs since 2013. Hickory won matchups in 2013 and 2019 with Ashbrook winning in 2016.
Next up: No. 9 Asheville (12-2) or No. 1 Freedom (10-0)
No. 10 Lake Norman (10-1) at No. 2 South Caldwell (7-6) (SCHS Live Stream), 6 p.m.
South Caldwell doubled up West Forsyth 12-6 in the first quarter on Tuesday en route to a 45-38 win. Kaitlyn Propst, Olivia Miller and Faith Curtis each had 10 points for the victors. The postseason victory was the Spartans' first since 2016, which is also the last time they reached the round-of-16. South Caldwell last played in a regional semifinal in 2000.
Lake Norman outlasted Myers Park 49-47 on the road Tuesday. Sophomore Kirsten Lewis-Williams, who led the team with 13 points in the game, scored the winning basket with 1.8 seconds left. Aly Wadkovsky and Madison Saunders paced the Wildcats with over 13 points per game this season. The Wildcats were second in in the I-Meck 4A Conference this season with the only loss coming against current unbeaten Vance.
South Caldwell has faced the Wildcats twice in the playoffs and the Spartans won both meetings back in 2011 and 2016.
Next up: No. 6 Panther Creek (10-1) or No. 3 Providence (7-0)
No. 6 North Davidson (13-0) at No. 3 North Lincoln (13-2) (sfcnetwork.tv, fee required), 6 p.m.
Senior guard Cole Seagle, who averaged 22 points a game during the regular season, dropped in 35 to lead the Knights to a 77-55 win against Forbush. It was his third game of 30 or more this season. North Lincoln trailed by one at the half, but outscored the Falcons 24-8 in the third quarter to put the game away. After seven losing seasons in a row, six of them with single-digit win totals, North Lincoln returned to the playoffs last season and won its first playoff game. A win on Thursday would put the Knights into the regional semifinals for the first time.
North Davidson has been to the final eight before, but it’s been since 1982 that the Black Knights were there. The Central Carolinas 2A Conference champs took out East Lincoln 62-59 on Tuesday. Leading scorer Jamarien Dalton (28 points per game) had 17 in the victory.
Next up: No. 10 Shelby (14-1) or No. 2 R-S Central (13-1)
No. 13 West Caldwell (8-2) at No. 5 Mountain Heritage (12-0) (NFHS Network, subscription fee), 7:30 p.m.
West Caldwell and Ashe County played a back-and-forth game into the third quarter. But after a dunk put the Huskies up 35-34, West Caldwell ran off a 12-3 run that proved to be the difference in a 66-54 win. In Tuesday’s game, the Warriors showed the ability to wear down Ashe County with constant pressure on defense, often in a three-quarter press. It was the first postseason victory for the Warriors since 2017, and just the fourth overall since reaching the “Sweet 16” in 2011. Sophomores Malek Patterson (17.9 points per game) and Jakobe Hood lead the scoring for West Caldwell. The Warriors last played in the regional semifinals in 2010.
Winners of the Western Highlands 1A/2A Conference, Mountain Heritage advanced with a 50-42 win over Salisbury. The Cougars' only loss to an in-state team the last two seasons came against Forest Hills in the 2A West semifinal last year.
This will be the third playoff meeting between the two programs. West Caldwell won the previous postseason encounter back in 2014. Mountain Heritage routed West Caldwell back in 2011.
Next up: No. 9 Atkins (13-1) or No. 1 Hendersonville (14-0)
No. 6 Mount Tabor (12-2) at No. 3 Hickory (10-1) (“Hickory High Boys Basketball” on Facebook), 6 p.m.
A young Hickory team (three sophomores and two juniors started on Tuesday) nearly let a double-digit lead get away, but the Red Tornadoes made enough free throws down the stretch to hold off North Buncombe 60-55. Jayden Maddox had the long-range touch and led the team with 19 points. Britt Rumbaugh had 16 and Nick Everhart, who was a key player down the stretch in Tuesday’s win, had 12. This will be the second year in a row for the Red Tornadoes in the round-of-16 and a win would put them back in the regional semifinals for the first time since 2018.
Mount Tabor opened up a 17-4 lead in the opening eight minutes and eliminated Charlotte Catholic 64-56 on Tuesday to advance to Thursday’s second round. Daniel Fulp led the Spartans balanced scoring attack.