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Prep Basketball: Statesville grls 63, West Rowan 32

By Bret Strelow
bstrelow@salisburypost.com
MOUNT ULLA ó Statesville guard Keyrra Gillespie picked up her first assist with a pass that went between the legs of a West Rowan defender, and she got another one when Cameron Bradley banked in a momentum-swinging shot from the right corner.
Gillespie also drew three charges against Ayana Avery. While West’s top players struggled against the league-leading Greyhounds, Gillespie did a little bit of everything to help her team earn a 63-32 road victory.”It’s very discouraging not to even compete,” West coach Erich Epps said. “I don’t mind getting beat, but not competing bothers me. We competed a little better in the second half, but the first half wasn’t even competitive. That was something you see out of a bad recreation team.
“We just have work to do, and we know it.”
The Clemson-bound Gillespie came close to recording a quadruple-double against the Falcons (5-6, 2-4 NPC). She totaled 11 points, 13 assists, 12 rebounds and nine steals before exiting with 1:38 remaining.
Gillespie had only three of Statesville’s first 17 field goals, but she assisted on 11 of them.
“I feel that, if I get my teammates involved, then I can come in later and that gets the game going better,” she said. “Instead of starting off thinking about myself, I think about them first.”
West’s Olivia Watkins scored with 22.6 seconds left in the first period to pull the Falcons within 12-6, but Bradley grazed the side of the backboard and hit a 3-pointer to beat the buzzer. That shot ignited a 17-0 run that ended when West’s Leighana Watson made a free throw with 2:34 left in the second quarter.
“We just cannot convert the easy shots, and the other team’s out there hitting 3s,” Epps said.
Avery, a sophomore, hit three 3s and scored all 13 of her points after the break to lead West.
Avery was scoreless on only two attempts in the first half, when she committed two fouls on charges into Gillespie. Point guard Mila Simmons made an early free throw and didn’t score again until the third quarter.
“(Avery’s) done everything for us, and she scored some points in the second half,” Epps said. “That’s why we were able to play with them a little in the second half. If she doesn’t score and Mila doesn’t score, we’re in trouble. If (Avery) doesn’t score in a half, we’re going to be down big.”
Statesville (10-2, 7-0) had a big lead even though Gillespie scored only two points in the first nine minutes.
She repeatedly set up Janitsha Williams (20 points) and others for open shots.
“(Gillespie) is the point guard everybody would want,” Statesville coach Todd Jones said. “I’ve said it for four years now ó actually six because I coached her in middle school ó I wouldn’t trade her for anyone in the nation.”
STATESVILLE (63) ó Williams 20, Gillespie 11, B.Bradley 10, Sherrill 7, C.Bradley 7, Brown 5, Jones 2, Smith 1, Caldwell.WEST ROWAN (32) ó Avery 13, Calloway 4, Simmons 3, Watson 3, Dutton 2, Watkins 2, Holloway 2, Moose 2, Cross 1, Parker, Gillespie, Turner.
Statesville 15 18 17 13 ó 63
West Rowan 6 3 11 12 ó 32

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