West girls ward off Carson
OLIN — West Rowan’s girls beat Carson for the third time in Thursday’s NPC semifinal to earn a third shot at the only team they have lost to all season.
Second-seeded West plays top-seeded North Iredell tonight in the tournament final at 6 p.m. in Olin. The seeds for the state playoffs are set in stone, but for the Falcons (23-2) it’s a chance to hang a championship banner and to prove they can beat tenacious North Iredell.
West’s 65-55 victory against the Cougars tied the Falcons for third on the school’s all-time victory list. The 2004-05 Falcons won 24, while the 1992-93 team won 26. Both those teams played in the Western Regional.
Easy baskets keyed the Falcons. When the third-seeded Cougars (19-7) rushed a shot or turned it over, the speedy Falcons laid it in on the other end.
“Carson’s halfcourt defense was very good, but they couldn’t keep up with us when we ran,” West star Shay Steele said. “We beat them down the floor as often as we could.”
The 6-foot-2 Steele scored 27 for the Falcons and became the fifth girl in school history to reach 1,500 points. Junior Nycieko Dixon pushed her career total to 971 with 15 points. Alison Sobataka scored 12, and Khaila Hall had 10.
Kelly Dulkoski (20 points) and Allison Blackwell (14 points, 13 rebounds) again had to fight West’s familiar triangle-and-two defense, although they kept Carson in the game.
Surprisingly, Carson opened in a zone but West jumped out 12-3. Carson regrouped, owned the next eight minutes. and led 22-19 midway through the second quarter.
“We were chasing the ball defensively, and that’s something we hadn’t done in the previous two games,” West coach Todd McNeely said. “And we weren’t getting any rebounds.”
But West closed the half with an 11-2 rush that included a buzzer-beating 3 by Dixon.
The Falcons blitzed Carson with transition points in the third quarter. When Hall got a lay-in off a steal late in the quarter, West went up by 16.
“We were turning the ball over in inconvenient places,” Carson coach Brooke Misenheimer said. “It hurt us that Katherine (Barringer) got in foul trouble, and their transition points just killed us.”
Carson was able to make it tighter in the fourth quarter because Kate Cole hit three 3s.
“Kate shot it well,” McNeely said. “That changed a lot.”
When Dulkoski hit a 3-pointer with 1:35 remaining, Carson got within 58-53, but West went 9-for-12 on late free throws.
“I finally got some shots to fall, and this was the best we’ve competed against them,” Cole said. “We competed to the end.”CARSON (55) —Dulkoski 20, Blackwell 14, Cole 9, Allen 8, Barringer 4, Clark, VanVoorhis, Parks.
WEST ROWAN (65) — Steele 27, Dixon 15, Sobataka 12, Hall 10, S. Miller 1, Q. Miller, Cross.Carson 15 9 11 20 — 55W. Rowan 17 13 20 15 — 65