PUMPKIN CENTER — The North Lincoln Lady Knights girls varsity basketball team’s run in the North Carolina Athletic Association 2A state playoffs came to an end in the first round with a 52-40 loss to North Henderson on Monday.
North Lincoln battled back from a 20-8 deficit at the end of the first quarter and cut North Henderson’s lead to 29-26 at halftime. But North Henderson outscored the Lady Knights 7-4 in the third and 16-10 in the fourth to advance to a second-round matchup with No. 1 Mountain Heritage today.
North Lincoln center Payton Bruce, the lone senior on the Lady Knights’ roster, finished the game with a team-high 14 points, with seven points of those points scored in the fourth quarter.
North Henderson started the game with a 4-0 run before North Lincoln freshman Sidney Russell made a pair of free throws with 5:04 left in the first. North Henderson junior Cameron Pryor added a layup to give North Henderson a 6-2 lead but a putback by Bruce and a short jump shot by North Lincoln junior Antaijah Easter knotted the score at 6-6 with 3:53 left in the first.
North Henderson then took an 8-0 run, and led the rest of the way, that was snapped when North Lincoln sophomore Cailee Franklin scored on a layup with 1:46 left in the first.
Russell started off the second quarter with a one-handed layup for North Lincoln and Bruce hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with six minutes left before halftime to cut North Henderson’s lead to 24-13. North Lincoln sophomore Lyndsi Pound scored on a layup and then Bruce added four unanswered points to bring the Lady Knights within five, 26-19, with 3:30 left before the break.
The Lady Knights added seven points in the last two minutes of the first half on a 3-pointer by Russell and free throws by Easter and Pound.
North Henderson came out of halftime in a full-court press and held the ball on offense, limiting North Lincoln to two free throws by Russell and a layup by Easter in the period.
Bruce started off the fourth quarter with a layup under the basket and, after a 3-pointer by North Henderson sophomore Jonnie Petree, converted a contested layup into a 3-point play.
The teams played the last three minutes of the game from the free throw line, with North Henderson taking a 7-2 scoring advantage.
Pryor led North Henderson with 24 points.