The Lady Greyhounds led just 22-20 when leading scorer Kristina Rumplasch went to the bench with her third foul.
Rather than let the lead get away, North Surry went on a 7-0 to go into halftime up 36-27. Then the Hounds kept up the scoring for a 73-52 win Wednesday to advance to the conference finals.
Rumplasch picked up two fouls in the first quarter and went to the bench. Then she got her third with 3:17 left in the half and only two points scored.
Center Malaya Johnson and point guard Morgan Midkiff picked up the slack. Johnson had 14 of her 16 points in the first half, and Midkiff scored 16 of her game-high 26 points before the break.
They scored 12 of the last 14 points in the half and 30 of the team’s 36 points.
Mount Airy assistant coach Wade Hill said before the game that West Stokes might be the one team that matches up well with North inside.
The Lady Wildcats have eight players standing 5-foot-8 or taller, including three six-footers.
That was true in the first half. In the first 2:20 of the game, West Stokes blocked three shots, and North blocked two. By halftime, the Cats’ Brianna Bratcher and Christine Madigan had equaled North’s Rumplasch and Johnson. However, no one from West Stokes could match Midkiff, who hit four three-pointers by halftime.
Rumplasch came out in the third determined to make up for lost time. She hit a three and an inside shot to give the Hounds a 41-27 lead before Coach James Holleman called a timeout with 6:53 left in the third.
The Hounds kept that 14-point lead to the end of the quarter at 55-41. Then North opened the final period with a 5-0 push that had Stokes calling another timeout with 6:13 left.
Rumplasch scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half. Guard Maddison Hawks added seven, Morgan Bunker four and Taylor Hill three.
For West Stokes Bratcher and Madigan had 13 points each, Makala Bozman had 10 and Abby Harris added eight off the bench.
North Surry advances to the championship game Friday against Mount Airy. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m.
* While the loss is disappointing, King should be proud of the turnaround of the girls program in the two years that Coach Holleman has been at West Stokes.
Two seasons ago, the Lady Wildcats were 4-20 and finished the year with 12 straight losses.
Last season, the Cats doubled their wins to 8-16 and finished by winning three of their last five.
West Stokes finishes this season 15-8 (10-6 in the Northwest Conference). All six regular-season conference losses came to the top three seeds in the Northwest: North Surry, Mount Airy and Bishop McGuinness. The only other team to beat the Cats was Mount Tabor, which went 23-1 and is ranked fifth in the state for 4A, according to MaxPreps.
West Stokes is ranked 11th in the state for 2A, while the Hounds are the top-rated team in the division.
The improvement should come as no surprise for a coach already inducted into the Surry County Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.
Among his achievements were two lengthy winning streaks at Mount Airy Middle School. Between 1994 and 1998, his teams racked up a remarkable 62-1 record, including 58 straight wins. Then from 2003-07, he went 66-2 with a 50-game winning streak.
Reach Jeff Linville at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1920.