Andrews’ buzzer-beating 3 sends Kinston to 2A East final
Kinston junior guard Zykia Andrews releases a 3-pointer in the first half of Tuesday’s fourth-round NCHSAA 2A playoff game against Thomasville Ledford. Although she missed this shot, she hit the one that mattered — a 3 at the buzzer that gave Kinston a 48-47 win and a trip to the 2A Eastern Regional final. Photo by William ‘Bud’ Hardy / Neuse News
Zykia Andrews’ name is now written in the annals of Kinston High School basketball history.
The junior guard hit a jaw-dropping, heart-stopping 3-pointer at the buzzer to lead Kinston to a 48-47 victory over Thomasville Ledford in Tuesday’s NCHSAA 2A fourth-round matchup at Viking Gym. Kinston (25-5) will now face undefeated Farmville Central (26-0) in the Eastern 2A regional final, which will be held in Greenville on Saturday. The site and the time of the game will be determined by the NCHSAA Wednesday.
However, the Vikings wouldn’t be playing Saturday if not for Andrews’ heroics. With the Panthers leading 47-45, Ledford’s McCall Denny missed two free throws with 14 seconds remaining in the game and the Vikings got the ball quickly up the court. Kinston junior guard Michyla Dove drove the left side of the lane but three Panthers stopped her progress.
“I have to admit: I didn’t see (Andrews) at first,” Dove said with a laugh. “I was going to the basket and then I heard everyone say, ‘She’s behind you! Zy’s behind you!’ I turned, hit her and she made the shot. Thank God I heard them.
“But I had confidence in giving her the ball, because I knew she was going to make the shot.”
Andrews took Dove’s pass and, in one motion, put up the shot heard ‘round Kinston – and it hit nothing but the bottom of the net.
“My teammates always have confidence in me, whether I miss a shot or not,” Andrews said. “I knew if I didn’t hit that shot, we don’t win.”
Having Andrews take the final shot, though, was not what Vikings coach Christopher Bradshaw had drawn up for his team.
“Although we didn’t have that play planned, we did have five shooters on the court,” he said. “We drew up dribble penetration, but when (Ledford) stopped that, Michyla kicked it out to Andrews and she knocked it down.”
After the game-winning shot by Andrews, she was mobbed on the court not by just her teammates and fans, but many of the players for the Kinston boys’ basketball team, who were at the game to support their female counterparts.
It was mass hysteria in Viking Gym for a few moments before the reality sunk in – Kinston’s girls were headed back to the 2A Eastern Regional final for the second straight season.
Kinston controlled much of the first half and took an impressive 28-18 lead at the half, thanks to 10 second-quarter points from Taliyah Jones. But Ledford (23-7) started chipping away at the Vikings lead and took its first lead of the game at 41-38 with 5:10 left in regulation on a Ashlyn Roark 3-pointer.
The Panthers’ fourth-quarter lead grew to as much as five points a couple of times and Kinston didn’t take back the lead until Andrews’ historic shot.
Kinston overcame the effort of Ledford senior guard Lyrik Thorne, who went for 15 of her game-high 22 points in the first half. After Bradshaw effectively shut down Thorne in the second half by using Lesley Sutton and Quiara Powell to shadow her, Ledford junior forward Shelby Sprinkle scored all 12 of her points in the second half – including 10 in the third period – to make up for Thorne’s production.
But in what has become a tried and true game plan for the Vikings in their 20-game winning streak, Kinston spread its scoring around, making it impossible for Ledford to concentrate on just one player to stop. Ten of the 12 players that suited up for Kinston scored, led by Jones’ 11 points and Dove’s 10.
Next up for the Vikings are the undefeated Jaguars of Farmville Central.
“Our team is built for the playoffs and we’ll be ready,” Bradshaw said. “At the end of the day, we’re just going to show up on Saturday and keep doing what we’re doing.”
Kinston 48, Ledford 47
Ledford 10 8 16 13 -- 47
Kinston 14 14 8 12 -- 48
Ledford: Lyrik Thorne 22, Shelby Sprinkle 12, Petroff 7, Davis 4, Roark 2. Kinston: Taliyah Jones 11, Michyla Dove 10, Cobb 9, Powell 5, Lee 3, Andrews 3, Sutton 2, Hargett 2, Baker 2, Rivers 1.