LINCOLNTON â€” The Lincolnton Lady Wolves entered unfamiliar territory after Mondayâ€™s 54-45 first-round playoff win over the Madison Lady Patriots.
Lincolnton had not won a playoff game in girls basketball since the 1999-2000 season, and now advances to face No. 1 seed Wilkes Central today in 2A West playoff action.
â€œIâ€™m like a proud father,â€ Lincolnton head coach Jimmy Carr said after the game. â€œI couldnâ€™t be more proud of these girls and the effort they put in and just go out there and play as focused as they did.â€
Lincolnton senior Chelsea Slentz got the Lady Wolves on the board 10 seconds into the game on a 3-pointer from an assist by junior Treasure Avery. Slentz made five of her 15 3-point attempts throughout the game, and added six points on field goals and free-throws, to finish with a game-high 22 points.
â€œWhen the 3-pointers are going in for Chelsea, weâ€™re going to have a pretty successful night,â€ Carr said. â€œI told her she had to play with confidence, and she had to go into the game thinking that every shot she took was going to go in.â€
After Slentzâ€™s opening 3-pointer, Brie Steward banked in a jumper off of an assist from Avery to put the Lady Wolves ahead 5-0. Slentz followed that score up a minute later with her second 3-pointer. Madison finally got on the board with 3:35 left in the first quarter.
The Lady Wolves ended the first quarter with a 17-5 lead, but the Lady Patriots closed the gap to nine points by halftime.
â€œAny time you get into the playoffs, you canâ€™t take anyone lightly,â€ Carr said. â€œThereâ€™s a reason they made the playoffs, and Madison came in and was pounding inside on us and putting it back off of the rebounds. We talked at halftime about how we wanted to try to limit their second-chance opportunities and I think our post players did a great job of boxing out during the second half.â€
The Lady Patriots opened the third quarter in a full-court press, in an effort to force Lincolnton to turn the ball over. After a score by Madison in the opening minute, Avery took the ball down the court, evaded several defenders and found her way underneath the basket where she pitched the ball out to Steward near the baseline. Steward hit the 3-point shot to give the Lady Wolves a 29-19 lead.
â€œI figured that at some point theyâ€™d try to press us, but I feel like Treasure is almost a press-break in herself,â€ Carr said. â€œWe run a press break as a team, but sometimes if it breaks down, we just tell Treasure to break it. I wasnâ€™t too worried there, but the fact that they ran a press just showed that they werenâ€™t going to give up either.â€
Madison, down 44-36 at the end of the third quarter, came within five points of the Lady Wolves with seven minutes left in the game after a 3-point play by Baylea Loven. Lincolnton pulled ahead with a 5-0 run that ended at the 5:44 mark. Madison scored its last point with 4:24 left to play, after which the Lady Wolves put five more points on the board.
Slentz said the team celebrated their first playoff win in over a decade after the game, but will have to get ready to face 26-1 Wilkes Central.
â€œIt was crazy after the game, we were just happy to get that first win, and weâ€™re looking forward to the next game,â€ she said. â€œWeâ€™ll just have to practice hard on Tuesday, and I know Coach will prepare us for the game.â€