Prep basketball: West Rowan girls 58, North Rowan 42
By Bret Strelow
SPENCER ó West Rowan girls coach Erich Epps took note of the improvement North Rowan made from its first game to its second.
Epps had even higher expectations for the Cavaliers on Thursday, when they played for the third time while facing a West team in its season debut.
North hung with the Falcons for more than a half before falling 58-42. Ayana Avery had 23 points to lead West, which overcame Quon Cuthbertson’s career-high 27 points and 24 rebounds.
“The North girls are really improved from last year,” Epps said. “They’ve gotten more athletic, and their guards handle the ball much better. I don’t know that we played bad; I think North Rowan is just a much better team this year.”
North (0-3) pulled in front for the final time at 24-23 on Tiffany Brown’s fastbreak layup with 58 seconds left in a second quarter that featured six lead changes. West (1-0) scored six unanswered points in the final 48 seconds of the half.
The Cavs drew within 31-30 on a basket by Cuthbertson midway through the third quarter, and West took control with a 13-0 run.
“I think we’re going to surprise a whole lot of teams late in the season because we are working hard, and the girls haven’t really figured out the talent level they have to play on this level yet,” first-year North coach Tony Hillian said.
Gabby Calloway scored to start the decisive run, and a 3-pointer by Avery produced the first double-digit lead.
As West pressed, Avery made a steal near the right sideline with her back turned away from the basket. She turned around and, with no hesitation, released a shot from deep on the right wing.
“(Epps) says don’t be scared to shoot,” Avery said.
Avery and Cuthbertson carried the offensive load for their respective teams.
Cuthbertson, who missed the final nine game of last season after suffering a knee injury, has scored 62 points this year in losses to Carson, Davie County and West Rowan.
“The knee is coming along great,” Hillian said. “She’s very healthy, and she just needs to finish a little more near the basket. She’s our target person for us this year, and she’s really doing a great job.”
Cuthbertson had eight points and eight boards in the first quarter against West.
Epps praised the interior efforts of Calloway, Desere Cross and Allison Parker, but Cuthbertson still grabbed 12 offensive rebounds and scored on plenty of putbacks.
“They were trying to name the school after her,” Epps joked in regard to Cuthbertson’s explosion. “We just have to get a little tougher inside.”
NOTES: Mila Simmons led West with seven assists, but the Falcons actually committed more turnovers than North. … Ashley Dutton scored all eight of her points in the first half for West. … North freshman Teaunna Cuthbertson had eight boards.WEST ROWAN (58) ó Avery 23, Simmons 8, Dutton 8, Calloway 6, Cross 5, Moose 4, Holloway 3, Parker 1, Gillespie, Turner, Watkins, Baucom.
NORTH ROWAN (42) ó Q.Cuthbertson 27, Roberts 8, Brown 2, T.Cuthbertson 2, Bethea 2, Gregory 1, Ellis, Turner, Rhinehardt.West 11 18 16 13 ó 58
North 8 16 10 8 ó 42
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