West girls return to form
MOUNT ULLA — West Rowan coach Todd McNeely figured his team had played only one good game since Christmas.
Now the Falcons have played two, and they’ve both come against Carson. West spanked the Cougars 63-47 on Senior Night in the West gym on Monday.
“I’m happy we played well,” McNeely said. “Sometimes it’s just about the matchups, and we were able to take advantage of the places where we thought we had a mismatch.”
West is very talented — not only taller in the frontcourt but quicker in the backcourt than Carson — and the Falcons were able to finish a season sweep. They beat Carson 51-41 in China Grove.
“Carson is a man-to-man team and we’re a very hard team to guard man-to-man,” summed up West senior Alison Sobataka.
While the Falcons (20-2, 9-2) have a take-care-of-business game remaining on Wednesday against West Iredell, Carson (18-5, 9-2) travels to league-leading North Iredell (14-6, 10-1) on Thursday.
Barring miracles, there are only two possible outcomes now for the tense NPC girls race. North Iredell is outright champ if it can avenge an earlier loss to Carson. If Carson beats North Iredell, the Falcons, Cougars and Raiders finish in a three-way tie for the title. Obviously, that’s the scenario the Falcons would like to see.
“We had to beat Carson tonight and now we have to cheer for ‘em,” McNeely said.
McNeely had a lot of things to cheer about on Monday. Shay Steele scored 20 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Guards Khaila Hall and Nycieko Dixon combined for 29 points. The Miller sisters, Shanice and Quanice, accounted for 10 points. Sobataka threw every ounce of energy she had into the defensive end of the floor and made life miserable for Carson star Kelly Dulkoski.
“Alison’s defensive effort, night-in and night-out, has been huge for us,” McNeely said.
West’s triangle-and-two defense with Sobataka on Dulkoski and Dixon guarding Allison Blackwell was the story of the first matchup. West used the defense again, and it was a factor again. Dulkoski and Blackwell average 38, and they were limited to 25. Blackwell was more aggressive on the boards than in the first meeting, but West could live with her getting 10 points and with Dulkoski’s 15.
Dulkoski hit two early 3s as the Cougars jumped out 10-3, but that momentum faded.
“We didn’t make open shots, and a lot of them were close-range,” Carson coach Brooke Misenheimer said. “The bottom line is more people have to step up and make shots. I felt like we should’ve been up 10 or 12 after the first quarter. Instead, we’re down one.”
After being down 10-3, West outscored Carson 20-5 over a 10-minute stretch, although a Kate Cole 3 helped pull the Cougars within 23-20 at halftime.
Steele’s nine-point third quarter pushed the Falcons to a 41-35 advantage.
“We were running the floor and getting fastbreaks,” Steele said. “We were rebounding, defending and finishing.”
When West scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter it was just about over, and Dixon finished off the Cougars with a flurry of free throws.
West’s 63 points were the most Carson has allowed.
“We pushed the ball and got the pace we wanted,” McNeely explained. “Our girls were getting tired, but Carson was even more tired than we were.”
CARSON (47) — Dulkoski 15, Blackwell 10, Allen 8, Cole 6, Barringer 6, Clark 2, Huffman, Parks, Gray.
WEST ROWAN (63) — Steele 20, Dixon 15, Hall 14, S. Miller 6, Sobataka 4, Q. Miller 4, James, Cross.Carson 10 10 15 12 — 47W. Rowan 11 12 18 22 — 63