SPENCER — It took the North Rowan girls basketball team not one, not two, but three tries to finally dispose of visiting North Moore Friday night.
And it a took Aliyah Farmer’s 10-foot set shot from the right side with two seconds remaining for the Cavs to escape with a molar-grinding 65-63 YVC victory.
“It shows we can work hard when we have to,” first-year coach Brian Lytton said. “Our youth showed tonight. We made a lot of mistakes, had a lot of silly turnovers. We got the shots we wanted but missed a lot of easy ones.”
They did — and won anyway. In a game that saw six lead changes in the second half, North (2-1, 2-0) prevailed simply by taking the final shot. North Moore had tied the score 63-63 when senior Jalisa Davis burried a 3-pointer from the top of the key with eight seconds to play. Rather than call a timeout, the Cavs quickly inbounded the ball and got it to Farmer, a freshman guard who sank a pair of clutch shots in the fourth period.
“It felt like a championship game,” teammate Special Washington said. “I was so excited.”
Losing coach Sammy McNeill wasn’t. Especially after North Moore (4-2, 1-1) coughed up a five-point lead in the final two minutes.
“It is what it is,” he said. “We went to sleep on that last play. After (Davis) made that three, we never should have allowed that long pass downcourt. The way we had it called, it shouldn’t have happened.”
But happen it did, igniting a celebration that won’t soon be forgotten.
“When Aliyah hit that shot, everybody just jumped up,” teammate Demeria Robinson said with a smile that would light up Times Square. “It was awesome. I was so glad for her.”
North seemingly took control of the game in the opening quarter. Early baskets by Fredejah Royer and Amber Carter set the tone, a 3-pointer by Taylor Sells hammered it home and four consecutive free throws by Tre Allen gave the Cavs a 17-7 lead.
North Moore — paced by Davis’ game-high 33 points — rallied to tie the score 28-28 on Tiosha McCaskill’s fastbreak layup with 3:08 remaining in the first half.
“We still haven’t played our best game,” the dissatisfied Lytton said. “We haven’t put it all together. But heart, determination, drive — all those things came into play.”
The Cavs led by three at halftime, but fell behind for the first time when NM’s Tyisha Horn scored on a putback midway through the third quarter. Moments later Davis sank the fourth of her five three-pointers to give the guests a 43-39 lead. Trailing by five points late in the period, Washington knocked down a last-second 3-ball to trim the deficit. The she opened the fourth with another long ball helping North surge back in front. “Just doing what I could to help,” she said.
Washington finished with 18 points and six assists while Robinson, the team’s sophomore floor leader, conributed 15 points and eight rebounds. She grabbed a rebound in the lane and drove for a layup to pull the Cavs within 59-56 with two minutes to go. Thirty seconds later she drained a three from the right corner to tie the score.
“She does what we need her to do,” Lytton said. “She’s going to be a very good point guard before it’s all said and done.”
Her exploits set the stage for Farmer’s game-winning shot. “I didn’t want to use a timeout,” Lytton said. “We’ve practiced that and I felt we’d get a better shot if we didn’t call one. The girls ended up making me look good.”
NORTH MOORE (63) — Davis 33, Little 8, McCaskill 7, Horn 6, Sheffield 5, Turner 4.
NORTH ROWAN (65) — Washington 18, Robinson 15, Royer 9, Sells 6, Farmer 6, Allen 5, Carter 4, Lingle 2, Smith.
N. Moore 12 19 16 16 — 63
N. Rowan 17 17 11 20 — 65