Moir Christmas Classic girls championship: Salisbury 75, East Rowan 56

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2008

By Bret Strelow
Andrew Mitchell begrudgingly posed for pictures before exiting the court inside Catawba’s Goodman Gym. He looked down at the Sam Moir Christmas Classic trophy in his hands as he walked to the locker room.
“The only thing missing is him,” Mitchell said.
Salisbury’s top-seeded girls claimed their sixth consecutive championship ó the first with Mitchell as the team’s head coach ó by registering a 75-56 victory against third-seeded East Rowan on Tuesday night. Shi-Heria Shipp was named the tournament MVP for a record third time after scoring a game-high 19 points, and the Hornets (11-0) received 13 points apiece from Bubbles Phifer, De’Rya Wylie and Ayanna Holmes.
Mitchell, Salisbury’s third coach in the last three seasons, hadn’t directed a championship run since leading nearby Livingstone’s college program to the CIAA women’s tournament title in 2000.
Moir, who prefers not to draw attention to himself by attending the tournament that bears his name, coached Mitchell at Catawba from 1984-88 and then helped him secure a spot on Johnson C. Smith’s staff.
“I came to see a scrimmage between Smith and Catawba, and Smith was looking for an assistant,” Mitchell said. “(Moir) called me down out of the stands and introduced me to Steve Joyner, and the rest is history.
“(Moir) recommended me for my first coaching job, so I’m just thankful to hold a trophy with his name on it.”
The Hornets won 76-27 against East Rowan in the 2007 Moir Classic final, and the Mustangs (7-4) put up a better performance in the rematch.
Olivia Rankin posted 15 points to match Katelynne Poole, who grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. Ashley Collins added 12 points.
East trailed 44-24, but Poole capped a quick run by hitting back-to-back 3-pointers that cut Salisbury’s lead to 14 midway through the third quarter.
“Last year I think we were a little scared, and I think we came out with a little more confidence this year,” Collins said.
A non-conference meeting between East and Salisbury three weeks ago didn’t hurt, either. The Mustangs played three solid quarters, but a lopsided second period made the difference in the Hornets’ 69-46 road victory.
East fell behind 6-0 in the first 90 seconds Tuesday and pulled even at 10-all on Rankin’s putback with 2:11 left in the quarter.
“It had me nervous,” Wylie said. “We had to jump back and play like we always play. Pressure the ball and play good defense.”
Shipp picked Poole’s pocket and slapped the backboard on a tiebreaking layup, and Shipp’s ball pressure forced a 10-second violation on East’s next possession.
Two baskets from Holmes pushed Salisbury ahead by six heading into the second quarter, and Phifer finished a six-minute stretch of dominance with a field goal that gave the Hornets a 21-10 lead.
“We try to play defense to make them give up the ball,” Phifer said. “It works sometimes and sometimes it doesn’t work, but we try to make it work the best we can.”
Poole committed her third foul after Phifer made a steal with 2:30 remaining before halftime, and Rankin picked up her third a minute later on a Shipp layup that increased the Mustangs’ deficit to 36-16.
East coach Karen Garmon stuck with her starters for most of the game, and foul problems prevented the Mustangs from putting up much resistance against Salisbury’s slashing guards. The Hornets also continued to play relentless defense ó they went into the break with a 14-0 advantage in fastbreak points and a 40-19 lead on the scoreboard.
East made its third-quarter push, but the margin expanded to 27 points in the fourth quarter. Phifer and Shipp, who combined for 10 steals, forced the Mustangs’ two primary ball-handlers into 18 turnovers while helping the Hornets convert half of their field-goal attempts.
“We’re seeing them constantly, which is a huge accomplishment,” Garmon said. “Not only are they accomplishing their goals, but we’re in the championship game against them. We’re where we want to be.”
Salisbury’s record-setting run started in 2003, when Shayla Fields walked away with the first of her two MVP honors.
Jennifer Shoaf coached the Hornets to four titles, and Dee Miller was in charge last December. Salisbury hired Mitchell in May.
“I knew a lot of winning was going on, but I didn’t know the winning attitude and the winning spirit at the school and with the administration,” Mitchell said. “This team, they really love to win. They’ll do anything for a win. I appreciate being around players and administrators like that.”

Salisbury 75, East Rowan 56
Holshouser 3-12 2-4 0-0 1-4 2 0 8
Vanderford 0-2 0-2 0-0 0-2 4 0 0
Rankin 7-11 0-0 1-2 3-4 0 1 15
Collins 1-11 0-3 10-10 1-2 3 3 12
Poole 6-13 3-4 0-3 4-9 5 1 15
Sabo 1-1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 2
File 2-3 0-0 0-0 2-6 0 0 4
Totals 20-53 5-13 11-15 11-27 14 5 56
Percentages: FG .377, 3PT .385, FT .733
Team Rebounds: 8
Blocks: 1 (Rankin)
Turnovers: 24

Shipp 8-18 0-4 3-3 1-4 4 4 19
Wylie 5-8 0-0 3-4 5-9 2 1 13
Clinding 1-1 0-0 0-0 1-2 1 0 2
BPhifer 5-13 1-7 2-2 0-3 5 6 13
NPhifer 1-6 0-2 2-3 0-2 0 1 4
Young 0-1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
AsHolmes 4-5 0-1 0-0 2-5 5 1 8
AyHolmes 6-8 1-1 0-0 2-3 2 1 13
Miller 1-1 0-0 1-2 1-1 0 1 3
Heilig 0-1 0-0 0-0 1-3 0 0 0
Totals 31-62 2-15 11-14 13-32 19 15 75
Percentages: FG .500, 3PT .133, FT .786
Team Rebounds: 1
Blocks: 12 (Miller 3, Heilig 3, Clinding 2, N.Phifer 2, Wylie, As.Holmes)
Turnovers: 13

East Rowan 10 9 19 18 ó 56
Salisbury 16 24 18 17 ó 75