SPIVEY’S CORNER — A loss at East Duplin on Jan. 26 dropped the Midway girls basketball team to 2-3 on the young season.
Lady Raiders coach Matthew Bagwell, in his first year with the program, says that setback served as a turning point for what was to come.
“Earlier in the season, we were just getting two people scoring, and now we’re starting to flow better as a team and mix things in well,” Bagwell said after a 63-37 win over Wallace-Rose Hill last Friday, marking the team’s seventh straight victory since the East Duplin loss.
“We kind of broke everything down and started clicking. The girls are doing wonderful ... everybody’s ready to go every day.”
Allison Belflowers has been the Lady Raiders’ most consistent outside threat, knocking down a season-high four 3-pointers to lead the team with 15 points against Wallace-Rose Hill. She’s scored double figures in four straight games, helping the squad win by an average of 36 points.
Belflowers says that despite some early apprehension associated with adjusting to a new coach and system, the team is percolating just in time for a postseason run.
“I think coach Bagwell has really done a great job this year,” the senior guard said. “We adapted to [Bagwell’s system] so quickly ... we’re playoff-ready.”
Midway has benefited from its cohesion, ball movement and execution on offense. Four players are averaging six points or better, led by sophomore guard Kris’Shyia McKoy’s 11 points per game.
“I think the chemistry this year is definitely better than it has been in year’s past,” senior post Makenzi Hudson said.
“Just the knowledge that we have on the team and the ability to work together is incredible.”
Hudson has been a mainstay in the middle of Midway’s offense and defense the past three seasons and is thriving in the role again this year. The 6-foot center is sporting a team-leading 7.8 rebounds per contest and is one of six Lady Raiders averaging at least one steal.
“That’s my job. The reason I’m down there is to help defend and get the ball back up the court,” she said.
“I’m supposed to support the team from the defensive side and finish it on the offensive side.”
Hudson enjoyed her best game of the year in last Friday’s win, scoring a season-high 11 points to go with 10 rebounds.
The victory guaranteed a top-two finish in the East Central 2A Conference, the first such placement since 2017-18 when Hudson and Belflowers were freshmen. It also solidified a postseason spot in a condensed 32-team field.
Now, the Lady Raiders wait for the official 2A state playoffs bracket release this Sunday, Feb. 21 to see who their first-round opponent will be.
“We just have to keep that energy going ... We know what we’re doing in situations. We go over it in practice and play it through the game, and it helps us so much. We’re gonna carry it far,” Belflowers said.
Donnell Coley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-230-2040.