Prep hoops: South girls 56, A.L. Brown 36

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 26, 2008

By Mike London
KANNAPOLIS ó South Rowan’s girls didn’t do much right in the first half, but guard Nikki Graham gave her teammates a chance to redeem themselves.The rejuvenated Raiders dominated the second half and pulled away from A.L. Brown to win 56-36 in non-conference action at Bullock Gym on Tuesday.
South was still close at the break ó down 23-21 ó only because Graham produced 11 first-half points.
“We challenged the girls at halftime,” South coach Jim Brooks said. “I told them, ‘Look, we can’t just stand there and watch them kill us on the boards. We’ve got to get nine more playing like Nikki is playing.’ Nikki was on the floor every time you looked.
“She simply got after it.”
Graham, who finished with a career-high 20 points, made a steal and layup to open the second half and ignited a 15-1 run that proved decisive.
“The coaches just kinda yelled at us at halftime that we had to get our heads in the game,” Graham said. “I put my head in it and kept going and going.”
Catawba signee Taylor May, who got untracked in the second half, was big during South’s key run. She went coast-to-coast after claiming one defensive board. She also jumped a passing lane, made a steal and led a fastbreak that Molly Garrett finished with a layup.
The third quarter ended with Jayana Lott’s buzzer-beater that pulled the Wonders (1-1) within 38-33, but South ended any doubt by scoring the first seven points of the fourth quarter.
Sam Goins scored four points to start the mini-run, and Graham’s third 3-pointer of the night made it 45-33.
South (1-1) outscored the Wonders 35-13 in the second half. Brown, which was led by Jasmine McCauley’s 17 points, put up a lot of flat jumpers in the second half.
Fatigue from an overtime victory on Monday could have been a factor. The Wonders connected on only three field goals after the break.
“Defensively, I thought Nikki and Krista (Haywood) took over up top, and that’s something we need them to do,” Brooks said.
May finished with 15 points, 12 in the second half, while Garrett had eight points.
Libby Sides and Katie Roberts scored their first varsity points for the Raiders in the fourth quarter as the visitors pounded the Wonders 18-3 down the stretch.
“We played Salisbury first game, and that’s kinda tough,” Graham said. “Anyone we played was gonna look better to us. If we just keep our heads in it, and we’re gonna make it.”
NOTES: Jasmine Parker scored 14 points to lead the Wonders to a 62-58 victory over First Assembly on Monday. … Kayla Morrow picked up three fouls in the first half, and Goins started the second half in her place. … South begins NPC play against North Iredell on Dec. 2.
SOUTH ROWAN (56) ó Graham 20, May 15, Garrett 8, Goins 4, Morrow 3, Sides 2, Roberts 2, K.Haywood 2, Ashley, W.Haywood.A.L. BROWN (36) ó McCauley 17, Blakeney 7, Lott 4, Cunningham 3, McGuinn 3, Parker 2, Tuttle, Forrest, Addison, Allison, Weaks.S. Rowan 13 8 17 18 ó 56
A.L. Brown 10 13 10 3 ó 36