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WAKE FOREST — After losing its first game against Heritage in overtime, Knightdale’s girls basketball team evened the season series with a 56-48 win on the road Monday.
This is the Knight’s first win against the Huskies as NAC 6 conference opponents and the first time they beat them since Nov. 20, 2014, when they won 47-34.
Knightdale head coach Martin Faison said his girls made significant progress.
“Tonight was a big win for us,” Faison said. “It was another stepping stone for us as a program. It puts us in a better position than we were before. I’m looking forward to see what the outcome will be for us at the end of the season.”
Heritage opened the game with a 17-10 lead after a close start to the contest. Knightdale dropped five consecutive points to finish the period with a 17-15 deficit.
In the second quarter, Heritage pulled off a 7-2 run to go up 24-17. Then Knightdale went off an 8-0 run to take the lead at 25-24. Heritage scored the final bucket of the first half to hold onto a narrow 26-25 advantage at halftime.
The third quarter was a tight back-and-forth match. Finally, Knightdale jumped ahead and kept the lead at 42-39 going into the final period.
In the fourth quarter, the Knights extended their lead to 53-46 with 2 minutes and 50 seconds to go. From that point on, Heritage struggled offensively, while Knightdale added three points to finish the night with a 56-48 victory.
“We picked up the intensity on the defensive end in the fourth quarter,” Faison said. “The girls started taking their job seriously. If we don’t individually do our jobs, we can’t come out with a win.”
Heritage head coach Pat Kennedy acknowledged Knightdale’s Diamond Thomas as the main reason his Huskies lost. The junior guard cashed in 32 points against his usually stingy defense.
“Diamond’s 32 points made a big difference tonight,” Kennedy said. “She had an outstanding game and we allowed her to play as well as she did.”
With the loss, Heritage dropped to 11-11 overall and 5-3 in NAC 6 conference play. That brought the Huskies down to third place in the conference behind Knightdale. Their 4A state playoff hopes are still alive.
“If the players don’t play hard for each other, then that’s not good,” Kennedy said. “The girls have to figure it out. We’ll see what they do down the stretch.”
With the win, Knightdale boosted its overall record to 16-6 and 6-2 in conference competition. The Knights have won three in a row and are in control of their own destiny with their ninth-straight state playoff berth in sights.
“We have to work on making sure we’re doing our own jobs,” Faison said. “If I do my job, I don’t have to worry about someone else. If the girls understand what they’re supposed to do, everything will work out.”
Knightdale will play its final game of the regular season against Corinth Holders on Friday, Feb. 14, at 6 p.m. Heritage will play at Rolesville at the same date and time.