Hickory Ridge’s girls basketball team lost for the first time all season Saturday in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A state championship game.
Northern Guilford erased a 12-point halftime deficit and won 66-64 to take its first state basketball championship. Hickory Ridge was trying to win its first state title and was trying to become the first girls state champion from Cabarrus County in nine years.
N.C. State commit Elissa Cunane had 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine blocks for Northern Guilford, but she fouled out with 90 seconds left and her team up 63-54. Without Cunane on the floor, Hickory Ridge (31-1) made a huge comeback. Deja Neal scored six points in a 7-0 run as Hickory Ridge cut the lead to two points with 24 seconds left.
Later, with eight seconds left, Hickory Ridge’s Nia Daniel was fouled, with her team trailing back three. She made the first free throw and missed the second intentionally. Hickory Ridge got the rebound but Northern Guilford’s Janelle Henderson stripped Sydney Miller before she could get a shot.
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Hickory Ridge was led by Gabby Smith, who had 15 points, four steals and three rebounds. Daniel finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and Jiera Shears had 12 points, three steals and an assist.