East Rowan girls roll by Statesville
GRANITE QUARRY — This was all about taking care of business.
East Rowan’s girls basketball team entered Monday’s NPC regular-season finale with an agenda — recognize its five graduating seniors and square its league record at 6-6. Both were accomplished in a 65-37 win against visiting Statesville.
“Check, check and check,” ER coach Danielle Porter smiled after the Mustangs (14-9 overall) locked up the No. 4 seed in next week’s conference tournament and a likely state playoff berth. “Obviously we wanted to honor those seniors. No words could express how much they’ve meant to us and this program. They’re just flat-out great kids.”
Although last-place Statesville (2-18, 1-10) drowned itself with 20-plus turnovers, the Mustangs helped fill the pool. Sparked by an undersized, all-senior starting lineup that included high-scorer Casey Gullett, East jumped to a 21-8 lead by the middle of the second quarter.
“Porter told us intensity is everything,” Gullett said after shooting 6-for-10 from the field and netting a season-high 15 points. “We just took that and ran with it.”
They ran without 6-foot-4 junior Karleigh Wike and 6-3 sophomore Kelli Fisher, both of whom spent much of the game chained to East’s bench.
“It was kind of different for us,” 5-10 senior Sydney Poole noted. “We’re used to playing with a much bigger post. Tonight I had to slide over and play it.”
Wike got into the game with 1:38 remaining in the first quarter and Fisher saw only second-half action. Each finished with eight points, though Wike was a rebounding force, reeling in 13 boards.
“They played to their strengths, which is getting the ball to their big girls,” said SHS coach Greg Stewart. “They were getting extra rebounds — and that’s one team you can’t give extra rebounds to.”
The game got interesting when Statesville scored the first six points of the second half to trim an 11-point halftime deficit to 27-22.
“We just had some complications on defense,” said Gullett, who also snagged eight rebounds and had four assists. “But we figured it out later in the third quarter.”
They figured it out thanks to a few non-starters. Lauren Thomas triggered an 11-0 run with a 3-pointer from the right corner. Fisher muscled her way for three layups and Amani Ajayi scored on a putback. When the dust settled the Mustangs were back in control, 38-22.
“Things started clicking for us,” Poole said after a 12-point effort. “Casey had an awesome night, boxing out and getting rebounds. But it was kind of bittersweet. I’m happy for the team but sad that it was one of my last games.”
East will host a conference tournament game next Monday or Tuesday and is expected to earn a state playoff berth. Gullett, Poole and fellow 12th-graders Steffi Sides, Caroline Fry and Lindsay Gobble simply enjoyed the night for what it was.
“The seniors really wanted to go out with a bang,” Gullett said. “We wanted to make this a memorable game.”STATESVILLE (37) — Arnette 10, Parson 9, Hairston 8, Padget 4, Carr 4, Elliott 2.
EAST ROWAN (65) — Gullett 15, Poole 12, Wike 8, Fisher 8, Fry 7, Ajayi 6, Thomas 6, Gobble 3, Lowe, Sides,Statesville 5 11 11 10 — 37E. Rowan 13 14 23 15 — 65