Prep Basketball: Salisbury girls 71, North Rowan 59
By David Shaw
SPENCER — Never heard of Salisbury guard Lakendra Williams? Ask North Rowan’s girls basketball team for a reference.
The SHS sophomore turned her fourth start of the season into a personal coming-out party in Wednesday’s 71-59 victory over the host Lady Cavs. She shot 5-for-6 from the field, scored a career-best 18 points and knocked down a pair of crucial 3-pointers in the third quarter.
“She came back from Christmas and wasn’t satisfied with her playing time,” coach Jennifer Shoaf said after Salisbury (14-2, 5-1 CCC) earned its 11th straight win. “So I told her, ‘The only way you’re gonna get playing time is to produce. You’ve got to get in the game and be a factor.'”
Williams, who didn’t play in three Salisbury games and was held scoreless in three others, wasn’t about to let this opportunity pass. She started in place of Bubbles Phifer and made the most of it.
“I had to,” she said afterward. “You only get so many chances. Shoaf told me to just go out there and do my thing — be focused and just ball.”
Williams helped the Hornets break open a close game with 15 second-half points while defending North sniper Shemeika Brown. Her performance got losing coach Mike White’s attention.
“We didn’t want to leave anybody open — we were focusing on everyone,” he said. “But she got open and when you’re wide open, you can knock them down. If you keep a hand in her face, she might not make those. But tonight she got open and was a scorer.”
Brown, who netted 10 of her team-high 21 points in the final quarter, had kind words for Williams.
“She played with a lot of heart and gave her all,” Brown said. “But we weren’t really concentrating on her. We were guarding (Shi-Heria) Shipp and (Kwameshia) Hicks. Some of the shots she made — those 3-pointers — they shocked us. We should have gotten out on her.”
Hicks was a consistent threat for the Hornets. She went 8-for-16 from the field and topped all scorers with 23 points. Shipp added 15, with 13 coming in the first half. Salisbury finished 24-for-43 (56 percent) from the field.
“This is a tough place to play,” said Shoaf. “We had to come over here and weather some storms, but we got what we were after.”
North received strong inside play from powerful forwards Sierra Ingram, Shavonna Casey and Daquondra Cuthbertson in the first half. The Cavs rallied for a 23-22 lead on Cuthbertson’s three-point play and were ahead 25-24 after Brown’s layup with 1:33 left in the second quarter.
“Their big girls were killing us,” Shoaf said. “We were suffering.”
That all changed when Salisbury switched to a box-and-one defense and Williams opened the second half with a 3-ball from the left side that gave the guests a 30-25 lead. Two minutes later she drained another long ball and the Hornets were up by nine. The third quarter still had 2:53 to live when Williams was hacked behind the arc and calmly sank three free throws that provided a 44-30 SHS edge.
“I know she hadn’t been playing a lot early in the season,” said Hicks. “But tonight she was determined. She was trying to make a statement for herself.”
It ended with an exclamation mark when Williams scored her final bucket on a fastbreak layup with 1:32 remaining.
“This summer she was our best player,” said Shoaf. “We really had high hopes for her but she didn’t get off to a great start. We’re all glad she’s turned it on again.”
salisbury 71) — Hicks 23, Williams 18, Shipp 15, Knox 12, Wylie 3, S.Phifer, K.Rice, Gallagher.
north rowan (59) — Brown 21, Ingram 17, Cuthbertson 9, Wilks 6, Turner 4, Casey 2, Parker, J.Rice.
Salisbury 12 15 24 20 — 71
N. Rowan 9 16 14 20 — 59
Contact David Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org.