Matching Durham Jordan in the second half wasn’t enough for Knightdale in the first round of the girls 4A basketball playoffs on Monday.
The Falcons won the contest 50-40 after building that 10-point margin over the Knights in the first half. Jordan (16-9, No. 15 seed) advanced to face No. 2 Southeast Raleigh in the second round.
“When we got settled in and got into the things we had practiced, we started to climb out of the hole in the second half,” Knightdale coach Trent Bunn said. “But we had already dug it too deep for ourselves.”
Jordan got its greatest boost as it outscored Knightdale (16-7, No. 18) by 8 points in the second quarter for a 26-16 advantage at halftime.
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“They kind of just ran away with it,” Bunn said. “They out-rebounded us and beat us up and down the floor in transition, both offensively and defensively, and we didn’t do a good job taking care of the basketball.”
The Falcons had three players score in double digits – junior Salita Greene (18 points, 17 rebounds) and freshmen Lizz Layne (15) and Rachel Ruderman (13).
Knightdale was led by senior Mariah Ballen with 10 points and junior Lovely Locklear with 8. Mikaya Wilson, Shacora Cooper and Aleeya Steward (6 points each) and Persia Brown (4) rounded out the team’s scoring.
The loss closed a chapter of considerable improvement for the Knights in their first season under Bunn, a former assistant at UNC Wilmington.
It marked the girls program’s most successful and only winning season in the past five years. The Knightdale girls finished 8-17 last season, 10-14 in 2012, 10-13 in 2011 and 9-18 in 2010.
“I expect them to work hard and you play to win the game,” Bunn said. “They put in the work and the good thing is they set the bar for future teams. Hopefully this is something we can sustain and build with like the East Wakes and Southeasts of our conference.”
Bunn said it was a challenge transitioning from coaching at the college level to the high school level, but that the team met his high expectations.
“I asked a lot of them and it was pretty demanding at times, but they stepped up to the challenge and I couldn’t be more happy for them,” he said.