Northern Nash's girls basketball team continued to win Friday night, taking a 59-41 win over Cardinal Gibbons in the third round of the state 3A playoffs.
The Knights, who have won 26 straight games since dropping their season opener, jumped to a huge lead over the Crusaders and turned back the 23-7 team's comeback attempts to earn a trip to the Eastern Regional in Fayetteville next week.
Northern's Kiana Thomas, a 6-3 junior, completed a 3-point play early in the second quarter to put her team up 20-4. Gibbons trailed by 16, 33-17, at halftime and fell behind by 19, 41-22, with 2:50 to play in the third quarter.
But then Gibbons' Madison Vrscak hit a 3-pointer and Morgan Reid scored the next seven points to cut the Knights' lead to 41-31. Early in the fourth quarter Madison Beuris pulled the Crusaders to within nine, but Northern outscored the visitors 14-5 the rest of the way.
"Getting in the hole in first quarter was the defining moment," Gibbons coach Jessica Lowe said. "Credit to our kids for fighting back, but they are a very good team, good guards, and good in the post. It's been a special ride with our six seniors, but we came up a little short this time."
Reid ended the gamewith 13 and Beuris added 10.
Alexus Hill is the only senior on the Knights team and scored a game-high 16, while Thomas notched 15. Susannah Sykes and Kayla Tucker scored 10 each. Hill averages 17 points per game and Thomas averages 13 points and 11 rebounds per game.
"I thought we could be pretty good," said Northern Nash veteran coach Grover Battle. "But I wasn't sure just how good. I know (Gibbons) is the best team we've played this year. We had to play man defense because they can shoot, but they still hit shots.
"We got to Fayetteville two years ago and I'm happy to be going back. I think we've got a chance."