Prep hoops: North Davidson girls 68, East 63

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 26, 2008

By David Shaw
GRANITE QUARRY ó It’s already been a long season for the East Rowan girls basketball team.
The Mustangs kicked off the year by coughing up a 16-point third-quarter advantage and falling 68-63 to visiting North Davidson on Tuesday.
“We panicked at the end,” coach Karen Garmon said after East made only three baskets in the fourth quarter and watched a 45-29 lead evaporate. “We broke their press and started making errant passes. I feel like we’re struggling getting into our offense and getting comfortable.”
The home stretch felt like an itchy wool sweater that didn’t fit.
“We definitely lost momentum in the second half,” said East’s Ashley Collins, one of four starting guards. “Their press, their guards, were incredible. That’s some of the best defense I’ve ever seen.”
No one got to see it in the early stages.
East jumped to a 20-6 first-quarter lead and led by nine points at halftime. Most impressive were senior Katelynne Poole and sophomore post player Olivia Rankin, who teamed for 23 points in the first half.
“At halftime my assistant said, ‘I don’t think we have a pulse,’ ” North Davidson head coach Kim Payne said. “East Rowan was pretty much doing whatever they wanted to.”
The big momentum shift began shortly after Rankin, a 6-footer with a soft touch, hit a bank shot from the foul line to give the Mustangs a 36-25 lead early in the third quarter.
“When we were running and gunning and pushing the ball up the floor, we did a great job,” Garmon said. “But once we tried to slow down the pace ó which usually is our strength ó we got a little herky-jerky. It’s first-game indecisiveness.”
By the middle of the third quarter East was brimming with first-game confidence. A 9-0 run, sparked by Poole’s 3-pointer from the left side and a couple of Poole free throws, put the Mustangs ahead by 16.
Gradually, North Davidson chipped away at its deficit, trimming it to 52-46 when Maudie Amos gained position for a layup with 5:50 remaining.
When teammate Ashlei Clodfelter sprung free on a fastbreak layup 90 seconds later, the score was tied 52-52.
“We picked up our intensity in the second half,” Payne said. “We got into a rhythm and started making more shots.”
And East stopped.
Collins hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Mustangs a 56-55 lead with three minutes to go, but there would be only one East field goal in the closing moments.
North, meanwhile, got a 3-pointer from Alex Payne and layups from Clodfelter, Haley Allen and high-scorer Katie Allen.
“We got frustrated and froze up at the end,” Rankin said after netting 15 points. “Still, we gave it our all.”
Poole led the Mustangs with 19 points. She had kind words for Rankin, a budding star.
“We can just give her the ball, and she’ll turn and score easily,” Poole said. “She’s smart, and she’s got a great basketball body.”
Garmon plans to feed Rankin the ball on a regular basis.
“We’re gonna give the ball to Olivia Rankin every opportunity we get,” Garmon said. “Because she’s solid. She can be dominant on the inside, and she can finish.”
Afterward, Collins reviewed the day’s lesson.
“We know where we are now,” she said. “We can learn from it and move on.”
NORTH DAVIDSON (68) ó K.Allen 19, A.Clodfelter 12, Payne 8, C.Clodfelter 7, Amos 6, Cook 5, Lanier 5, Pritchard 3, H.Allen 3.EAST ROWAN (63) ó Poole 19, Rankin 15, Collins 12, Sabo 7, Holshouser 7, Vanderford 3, File.N. Davidson 6 17 17 28 ó 68
E. Rowan 20 12 18 13 ó 63