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Prep Basketball: Statesville girls 65, West Rowan 54

By Mike London

Salisbury Post

MOUNT ULLA — West Rowan’s proud streak of finishing first or second in its conference for 11 straight seasons is certain to end.

NPC front-runner Statesville added to West’s woes on Tuesday when it pounded the fifth-place Falcon girls 65-54 in Mount Ulla.

The final score was deceptively close. Statesville jumped all over West 13-0 in the first three minutes and cruised from there.

The ninth-ranked Greyhounds (17-2, 9-0) led by 24 points after three quarters, but West’s reserves battered Statesville’s backups on the backboards and made the scoreboard look a lot less ugly.

“Their starters outplayed ours; our subs played better than theirs,” West coach Bob Blake said. “Our backups played with a lot of confidence and very unselfishly.

“They had nothing to lose.”

Reserve post player Katie Cox scored eight points for West in the fourth quarter and finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Backup Mila Simmons handled and passed the ball well, and reserve Erin Foster provided offense with seven points.

Statesville coach Todd Jones had his team ready to play from the outset. He reminded his squad it lost its chance for an outright conference championship last season when it fell 43-38 at West.

“They were gunning for us this year,” Jones said. “We’re wearing a bull’s eye on our chests now.”

Besides a bull’s eye, Statesville has deluxe sophomore point guard Keyrra Gillespie. The Falcons

(10-8, 4-5) were helpless against her. Despite calling it a night early in the fourth quarter, she had 23 points and seven steals.

“She’s awesome, and this might sound crazy, but I wouldn’t trade her for anyone in the nation,” Jones said. “She’s played thousands of games. She leaves practice and goes to the rec center to play some more. You’ve got to love her.”

West opened in a 1-3-1 zone to limit Statesville shooters Jada Nesbit and Kenyanna Harris, but that defense couldn’t keep Gillespie out of the lane. She either penetrated all the way to the rim or dished to a teammate for a layup.

West switched to man-to-man and actually outscored the Greyhounds over the last three quarters, but Statesville’s 24-12 first-quarter edge was all that really mattered.

“I don’t know what the trouble is, but the start of the game is our problem,” West senior Rachel Graham said. “You can’t start that bad and then try to pull it out against a team like that.”

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NOTES: West guard Peyton Sawyer played one-handed with a bad thumb. … West plays at Salisbury, ranked No. 5 in 2A, tonight.

statesville (65) — Gillespie 23, Nesbit 13, Harris 9, Brown 6, Daywalt 6, Parker 4, Bailey 4, Bowers, Gaither, Henderson.

west rowan (54) — Cox 12, Taylor 9, Foster 7, Sawyer 6, Graham 4, Turner 4, Kraft 4, Izze 3, Adams 3, Simmons 2, Stout.

Statesville 24 18 15 8 — 65

W. Rowan 12 13 8 21 — 54

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Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or mlondon@salisburypost.com.

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