Prep Basketball: East Rowan girls 62, West Rowan 52
By Mike London
MOUNT ULLA ó East Rowan guard Katelynne Poole had the wind knocked out of her on a third-quarter layup attempt, and her team spent much of the second half gasping for air.
East held off West Rowan 62-52 for an NPC win, but the Mustangs’ biggest rival turned a blowout into an out-of-breath finish.
Poole scored 29 points to boost her career total to 972. Fellow senior Ashley Collins collected 16 points. Collins and Poole combined to go 17-for-18 from the foul line.
Ayana Avery had 17 points for the Falcons, while Peyton Sawyer, playing her third game since regaining eligibility, scored all 10 of her points during West’s furious comeback.
Avery scored the first three points of Friday’s game on a 23-foot rainbow, but the Mustangs scored the next 21. Poole was hitting from everywhere, Collins swished a pullup 3 on a break, and Olivia Rankin owned the paint.
“We missed some layups early, and it was 10-3 when it should have been 10-7,” West coach Erich Epps said. “I think that got my girls demoralized. You see in the paper sometimes that someone got beat 80-30, and that could have been us tonight. We played really hard for three quarters, but give East credit. They were ready to play for four.”
East led 25-5 early in the second quarter when West’s Megan Moose hit a 10-footer. After that, the Falcons traded baskets and trailed 36-18 at halftime.
With nothing to lose, West (8-10, 5-8) attacked with fullcourt pressure in the second half. East committed nine turnovers in the third quarter. Avery hit two 3s, Gabby Calloway made two stickbacks, and East’s lead dwindled in a hurry.
But like a boxer who had piled up a safe lead with jabs, East covered up and avoided a knockout.
“They went to fullcourt man, and we just freaked out for a while,” Poole said. “Thankfully, we calmed down and kept control.”
Poole fell hard in the closing seconds of the third quarter. She wanted to stay in, but coach Karen Garmon had come onto the floor fearing Poole was seriously hurt so Poole had to come out. Alaina Vanderford shot the free throws for Poole, made both and pushed East’s lead back to 12.
Poole returned to the lineup and East handled the pressure better in the fourth quarter. West got as close as 58-50 with 1:07 remaining, but Poole and Collins were automatic at the line to finally put it away.
“I was waiting on West to fight back, and they did,” Garmon said. “But we don’t panic. They made a few steals and got some layups, but we bounced back. It was beautiful to see.”
East rowan (62) óPoole 29, Collins 16, Rankin 8, Vanderford 5, Holshouser 2, File 2, Sabo.
west rowan (52) ó Avery 17, Sawyer 10, Calloway 9, Cross 7, Simmons 5, Moose 2, Watkins 2, Baucom, Gillespie, Parker. E. Rowan 23 13 13 13 ó 62
W. Rowan 5 13 19 15 ó 52
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