Prep Basketball: South Rowan girls 51, Lake Norman 42
By David Shaw
LANDIS ó There’s an NPC playoff race to be run, and apparently the South Rowan girls basketball team is running it.
The Raiders rallied past second-place Lake Norman 51-42 at home Friday night for their second conference victory this week and third in their last four games.
“It’s the way we’re playing right now,” South coach Jim Brooks said. “These girls just decided they weren’t going to lose. We didn’t play to lose. We played to win.”
With four regular-season games remaining, fourth-place South (12-8, 9-5 NPC) can’t be ignored. Especially after they surprised the Wildcats (15-4, 12-2), who leveled the Raiders when the teams met on Jan. 16.
What’s more, South did it without starting point guard Nikki Graham, who suffered a sprained right ankle with 1:01 remaining in the first quarter.
She returned briefly in the second period but was quickly removed and didn’t return.
“This was huge,” wide-eyed senior Taylor May said. “Everything that happened ó if we play that hard from now on, we’ll win every game we have left.”
They won this one with a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback.
South trailed by eight points early in the third period and was behind 34-28 entering the fourth. But May’s bucket and three free throws by teammate Molly Garrett trimmed the deficit to 34-33 with 6:08 left.
“We could feel the adrenaline shooting through our bodies,” Garrett said.
South finally tied the score at 40-40 when Sam Goins converted a pair of foul shots with 1:40 to play. The Raiders took their first lead since the opening minutes when Goins took a nifty bounce pass from Libby Sides, hit a layup, got hacked by Lake Norman’s Marissa Riley and completed a three-point play with 1:13 to go.
“I just knew I had to make those free throws,” Goins said after scoring nine of her season-high 13 points in the last 2:22. “Weezy (assistant Bryan Withers) is the one who helps me with them.”
Brooks was simply glad that somebody got hot.
“We just wanted to keep the game close for as long as we could and then see what happens,” he said. “We were down to seven players. Whether we won or lost, we were gonna be tired at the end of the game.”
Frankly, it was hard to tell. South played the closing minutes with renewed energy. A key play came with 46 seconds remaining. Nursing a one-point lead, May flipped an off-balance pass to Garrett, who took aim and buried a 3-pointer from the left side that provided a 46-42 edge.
“It’s a great shot,” Brooks said with a smile, “because it went in.”
lake norman (42) óWright 10, Mannion 8, Shalvey 7, Stevens 5, Riley 3, Lewis 3, Kirkland 3, Howard 2, Vince 1.
south rowan (51) ó May 15, Goins 13, Garrett 8, Sides 5, Morrow 4, K.Haywood 4, Graham 2, W.Haywood.L.Norman 10 11 13 8 ó 42
S. Rowan 8 7 13 23 ó 51
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