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Prep Basketball: West Rowan girls 67, East Rowan 59

By David Shaw

Salisbury Post

GRANITE QUARRY — The most-telling comment following West Rowan’s 67-59 overtime victory Tuesday night came from winning coach Bob Blake.

“We worked too hard for that,” he exhaled after the Falcons rallied past host East Rowan. “It wasn’t supposed to be that hard.”

He can thank the Mustangs for putting up a terrific fight. West watched all of its 12-point halftime lead evaporate and needed a last-minute 3-pointer by junior Erin Foster to force overtime. WR then received a quick layup from Wendi Adams and never trailed in OT.

“This was the first time we’ve had a letdown during a game and have been able to come back and win,” Blake said after West improved to

4-2. “So it’s a good feeling, because we’ve had letdowns.”

East coach Karen Garmon orchestrated the Mustangs’ turn-around, barking instructions from the bench and making key decisions.

“We decided at halftime that wasn’t our style and we weren’t gonna play it anymore,” she said after ER fell to 1-5. “In the second half I played five people who were gonna bust their tails and give everything they had. That comeback was nothing but heart and intensity.”

East gradually closed the gap in third quarter and finally pulled even when Kelsey Stout swished a 3-pointer from the right corner with six minutes left in the fourth.

“We still knew we’d find a way,” said Rhonda Turner, West’s top scorer with 16 points. “We’re well-disciplined. We knew if we just stayed calm and played to our abilities, we’d be OK.”

It got better before it got worse for the Falcons. They raced to a 50-45 lead on Rachel Graham’s 3-pointer with 2:47 on the clock. East responded with six unanswered points by Ashley Collins and went ahead for the first time with 1:33 to go. Five seconds later the Falcons were back on top, courtesy of two Peyton Sawyer free throws.

“I was a little pumped up at the end,” East senior Rebecca Cooper said after netting eight of her 10 points in the third quarter. “Once you get that momentum going, you believe you can do it.”

The stuff that was hard to believe came moments later. First East regained the lead and pushed it to 55-52 when Poole made four straight free throws. That set the stage for Foster, who dribbled into the left corner and launched the game-tying 3-pointer with 17 seconds left in the final quarter.

“It was the shot of the game,” Blake said. “We’ve been on her to shoot the ball all year. We know she can run. We know she can handle the ball and she’s a good defender. But she can also shoot the ball 50 percent.”

She picked this night and this moment — with Brooke Taylor, the county co-leader in scoring, sidelined with an injury — to fire away.

“Well, with Brooke out I had to think about scoring more,” Foster said after tossing in 13 points. “I was trying to score more. On that last shot, I knew it was going in. It just felt right.”

Blake wasn’t about to take credit for it.

“I wish I could say I called that play, but I didn’t,” he said. “Erin had taken some shots early, she was feeling confident, and she just happened to be beyond the line. I’m glad she let it go.”

West’s defense prevailed in overtime, limiting the Mustangs to four free throws.

“It was a relief when it ended,” Foster said. “They kept coming back. We couldn’t shake them.”

*

NOTES: Taylor, who averages 19.0 points-per-game, suffered a buckle break in her left wrist in last Friday’s game against North Rowan. She’s unavailable for another 10 days. … Collins led all scorers with 18 points for East.

west rowan (67) — Turner 16, Foster 13, Graham 11, Adams 9, Cox 7, Sawyer 7, Simmons 2, M.Stout 2, Izze, Kraft.

East rowan (59) — Collins 18, Poole 14, Cooper 10, K.Stout 7, Miller 6, Hill 2, Vanderford 2, S.Stout, Cress.

W. Rowan 16 13 11 15 12 — 67

E. Rowan 7 10 22 16 4 — 59

*

Contact David Shaw at dshaw@salisburypost.com.

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