MOUNT ULLA — Concord coach Angela Morton got her first look at West Rowan freshman Khaila Hall on Wednesday, and senior Alison Sobataka has improved her game so much that Morton didn’t recognize her.
“Wow, I didn’t remember her at all from last time,” Morton said. “She’s a special shooter.”
Hall got West off to a flying start in a 57-43 win against the visiting Spiders, and Sobataka did an awful lot of damage with a perfect night — 6-for-6 , including four 3s.
Morton was very familiar with senior Shay Steele and junior Nycieko Dixon, a duo that led West to a 62-51 win against Concord last winter, so the Spiders focused their defense early in the game on stopping those two.
But nothing Concord did in that first quarter worked. West shot 100 percent from the floor in the first seven minutes, going a fast-paced, championship-level 9-for-9 to open a 20-9 lead.
We wanted to get out to a big lead early,” Steele said. “We’ve been working a lot on defense, and we were trapping them and running for layups.”
After 7 minutes, 15 seconds, Keya James had a 3-pointer rattle in and out for West’s first miss
West took a 27-11 lead early in the second quarter when Steele passed to Dixon for a layup, and the lead swell was 37-15 late in the first half after Sobataka hit open 3s after good passes by Dixon and Steele.
But a very young Concord team started settling down after that and scored the last eight points of the second quarter to trail 37-23 at the break.
“We’ve basically got a jayvee team with six freshmen and four sophomores,” Morton said. “This was our very first game on the road, and West is really good. When they’re shooting the ball that well, it can kind of be a long night.”
It didn’t help Concord (1-3) any that Nakiah Black, one of the Morton’s top players, got hurt in the third quarter. The Spiders managed just three points in that period, while Dixon was scoring six for the Falcons (7-0).
“Nakiah got accidentally head-butted by a teammate,” Morton explained. “Her eye looked like a boxer’s eye, and we didn’t want to take any chances.”
West’s lead peaked at 25 points in the fourth quarter, but the Spiders kept scrapping. Danica Ford got eight of her 14 points in the fourth quarter, as Concord whittled away a good chunk of West’s lead.
“We had a good, all-round team effort and our man-to-man defense was good,” West coach Todd McNeely said. “But we just can’t seem to play well with a lead. I thought we were still pushing it well after that strong start, but we started fumbling the ball. It was like we’d left our hands on the bench.”
Steele finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. Sobataka also scored 16. Dixon had 12 points and five assists. Hall had 11 points, six assists and six steals.
“They’re super-talented,” Morton said. “They’ve got everything you need. They’ve got the point guard (Hall), the big girl (Steele) and the shooters.”
CONCORD (43) — Ford 14, J. Black 9, Parks 6, N. Black 5, Cannady 5, Lewis 2, Patton 2, Floyd, Craver.
WEST ROWAN (57) — Sobataka 16, Steele 16, Dixon 12, Hall 11, Cross 1, Q. Miller 1, S. Miller, James, Edwards, Allesandrini, Freeze, Gibbons.
Concord 11 12 3 17 — 43
W. Rowan 23 14 10 10 — 57