Prep Basketball: Central Cabarrus 54, South Rowan 37
LANDIS — Rowan County’s leading scorer Avery Locklear broke her right hand late in Wednesday’s practice session, and South Rowan had no time at all to prepare for playing without her.
It showed on Thursday. South didn’t make a field goal in the first quarter, dug a deep hole and was roughed up 54-37 at home by a young but athletic Central Cabarrus team.
“Avery is our leader, our go-to person, so it’s a big adjustment,” South senior Lynsey Corriher said.
That was putting it mildly.
South (5-3, 3-2 SPC) had two points after a quarter and nine at halftime.
The Raiders did get better shots in the second half and put up 28 points, and that was the positive.
“It was tough because we didn’t have even one practice to gameplan for playing without Avery,” South coach Jarrod Smith said. “But this is a whole team. We can do it. We can play without Avery, but we have to make some adjustments.”
Central (4-5, 4-1) is in second place in the league, even though it relies heavily on a pair of freshmen.
Point guard Mahaley Holit did a lot of the same things she did to beat West Rowan Tuesday. The 5-foot-3 blur attacked constantly to earn a steady stream of free throws and nailed a couple of open jumpers to pile up 22 points.
“For someone so young, she’s got a great understanding of the game of basketball,” Central coach Brandon Blalock said.
Just as impressive for the Vikings was 5-8 Elanna Peay, who had a triple-double that included 12 points, 10 steals and what seemed like a million rebounds.
“Peay is just so athletic and plays so hard,” Blalock said. “She gets after it, and the way she got after it in practice Wednesday, I knew she’d played well tonight. We’re fortunate to have some very special freshmen.”
Peay also did most of the defensive work against South’s other big scorer Cassidy Chipman. Chipman was held to two 3s and 11 points.
South’s most effective player was tiny guard Sylvetta Bost, who produced nine points, mostly by stealing the ball and getting layups.
Corriher hit two 3s in the fourth quarter and also finished with nine points.
South trailed by 15 early in the fourth quarter, but a 3-pointer by Chipman with 5:08 remaining got South within nine points.
“We had some lulls, and if we’re going to be a good team we can’t have those,” Blalock said. “We’re young, but we need to grow up fast.”
Holit and Kesley Adcock made free throws to stop South’s comeback, and Central racked up its third win in its last four outings.
“We’re counting the days until Avery gets back,” Corriher said. “Until then, we all have to do a little more.”
Smith agreed with that assessment.
“I thought Sylvetta played great tonight, and I thought Lynsey played great,” he said. “We’ve got 20 points to make up without Avery, so we’ve got to score 10 more every game as a group and we’ve got to play good enough defense to hold the other team to 10 less.”
NOTES: South will be seeded third for the upcoming Christmas tournament on Dec. 26-28. ... Before it lost Locklear, South already was without starter Caroline Hubbard (broken collar bone). ... Smith is looking on the bright side. He said that while Locklear figures to be out at least four weeks, she may miss only a handful of league games.
CENTRAL (54) — Holit 22, Peay 12, Wallace 7, Adcock 4, Haggans 4, McFarlane 3, Morrisette 2.
SOUTH (37) — Chipman 11, Bost 9, Corriher 9, McLendon 4, Martin 3, Stamey 1, Waters, Figueroa, Smith.
C. Cabarrus 9 14 13 18 — 54
South 2 7 14 14 — 37