The seventeenth-seeded Knightdale girls’ basketball team used strong performances from its guards to cruise past No. 16 Leesville Road in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs, winning 58-45 on Tuesday.
With the victory, the Knights (19-6) advanced to play No. 1 seed Hillside on Thursday.
Thankful to still be playing, Knightdale junior shooting guard Melody Prichard said she and her teammates were just fighting to extend their season.
“I love hanging out with these girls and I love playing with them, so if it had ended tonight, I probably would have cried,” Prichard said.
Prichard’s passion was evident on the court. Doing most of her damage from from deep, Prichard scored a team-high 19 points, 12 coming from 3-pointers.
Teaming up with Prichard to lead the Knightdale offense was senior point guard Mikaya Wilson, who frustrated Leesville Road (21-7) with her quickness and ability to stop on a dime while drawing fouls. Wilson ended the night with 18 points, scoring 12 after halftime.
Whether it was in transition or at halfcourt, the Knights were able to have their way on offense most of the game.
Knightdale coach Trent Bunn was pleased overall with the way his team performed on the road in a do-or-die situation.
“I just thought they executed,” Bunn said. “I know coach Daniels had his girls well prepared, so we just executed our game plan and that’s it, basically.”
After the first period of play, Knightdale held a slim two-point advantage at 16-14, but the Knights outscored Leesville Road 25-12 in the second and third quarters to take full control of the game.
In addition to Prichard and Wilson, junior Zee Bowens also scored in double-figures for Knightdale (11 points).
Leesville Road was led in scoring by junior center Lauren McNamara-Clement, who had 12 points in the loss.
Tuesday’s game did not go as planned for the Pride, but Leesville Road head coach Ben Daniels said he’s still proud of the season his group had.
“The ball didn’t bounce our way tonight, but I don’t want to look at the season that way,” Daniels said after talking to his team for one final time this year. “I want to look at it as remarkable as it was and I wish Knightdale the best.”
While the Knightdale players and coaches respect Hillside’s Hornets, the Knights aren’t backing down from any sort of challenge.
“We like beating teams at their own home,” Wilson said.