Prep hoops: Statesville girls 51, East 41
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY ó Statesville’s long, lean youngster Bronte Sherrill dove on the floor in the second half, scattering East cheerleaders and orange traffic cones.
“We preach hustle,” Statesville girls coach Todd Jones said. “I thought our center getting on the floor got us going. It was a turning point.”
Statesville used 24 points by Janitsha Williams to hustle past East Rowan 51-41 in an early matchup of NPC contenders. The Mustangs, who led by a point at halftime, had their chances.
Statesville handled East 61-36, 64-46 and 65-43 last season, with the final victory coming in the NPC championship game, but the Mustangs have closed the gap a bit. Statesville still has Williams, who scores inside and outside, and stellar point guard Keyrra Gillespie, who signed with Clemson, but it’s dealing with multiple injuries, including a season-ending shoulder ailment that sidelined veteran Simone Parker.
“Injuries have killed us,” Jones said. “We’ve had to call up jayvees, and obviously we have a lot to work on.”
Tall East sophomore Olivia Rankin presented problems for the Greyhounds in the first half.
Rankin had eight points, eight rebounds and three blocks before halftime, and the Mustangs (0-2, 0-1) weathered 15 turnovers to take a 19-18 lead.
“Olivia makes us a whole new team this year,” senior guard Katelynne Poole said. “Now we’ve got two options ó inside and outside. We miss a shot, and Olivia still puts it back in.”
Mackenzie Holshouser’s driving layup with 7:18 left in the third quarter gave East its last lead at 21-20.
Williams put the Greyhounds on her back in the third quarter, scoring 10 points to push Statesville’s edge to 34-28 heading to the final eight minutes.With 5:21 left to play, Alaina Vanderford passed to Madelyn File for a layup and Olivia Sabo followed with a stickback to get East within 37-35.
With 4:01 remaining, Statesville’s Mandy Jones, who hadn’t gotten anything to fall, sank a pivotal 3-pointer.
“We’d just talked about no more 3-point shots, but Mandy came through in the clutch,” Todd Jones said.
Mandy Jones’ shot made Statesville’s coaching staff cringe and it was a shot East wanted her to take, but she drilled it.
“We were packing it in to keep Gillespie from driving and dishing, and we wanted them to take outside shots,” Poole said. “Even after Olivia got in foul trouble, File came in and gave us a lot of fire, so we still had a chance.”
Gillespie, who was limited to one field goal and 10 points, controlled the ball down the stretch. The Greyhounds clinched victory when she dished to Williams for a reverse layup and a 50-37 lead with 51 seconds remaining.
Rankin finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Mustangs. Poole scored 11 points. File and Ashley Collins contributed five points each.
NOTES: Statesville plays at home against Salisbury tonight. … East finished with 35 turnovers, including 11 in a frantic fourth quarter.
STATESVILLE (51) ó Williams 24, Gillespie 10, Sherrill 10, Jones 3, B.Bradley 2, Bailey 2, Caldwell, Smith, Brown, C. Bradley.
EAST ROWAN (41) ó Rankin 12, Poole 11, Collins 5, File 5, Vanderford 3, Holshouser 3, Sabo 2.
Statesville 11 7 14 17 ó 51
E. Rowan 8 11 9 13 ó 41