Prep Basketball: Mooresville girls 50, West Rowan 49
By Mike London
MOORESVILLE ó Ayana Avery’s desperate, turnaround jumper from the left side glanced off the rim as the final second ticked off the clock, and West Rowan’s girls had to deal with frustration one more time.
West rallied from a huge hole to take a lead but ultimately fell to Mooresville 50-49 on Saturday afternoon.
Avery scored 20 points, but the Falcons lost their fifth tight game of the season.
The setback turned the NPC race for fifth and sixth ó and the last two state playoff berths óinto a crapshoot.
West Rowan (9-12 overall) and Mooresville are both 6-10 in the NPC and tied for sixth. Both have two games against second-division teams remaining. Facing a tough schedule, West Iredell (8-8) could fall back into the muddle, while North Iredell (5-11) could climb into the hunt for sixth.West had zero energy most of the first half. It couldn’t have gotten any worse. When coach Erich Epps called timeout with 3:50 left in the second quarter, West trailed 25-11.
At that point, West was shooting 2-for-18 and had been outrebounded 21-4. No kidding ó 21-4.Employing fullcourt pressure, West reduced its deficit to 26-16 at halftime.
“We didn’t rebound at all in the first half,” Epps said. “It’s frustrating. It’s like we wait until we get behind by 15 before we start playing.”
West got after it in the second half, and Avery, Peyton Sawyer and Mila Simmons forced a flurry of turnovers. Mooresville committed 33, including 20 after halftime.
The Blue Devils still led 44-35 after three quarters, but West began the fourth with a 10-0 run. When Simmons made a steal at halfcourt and finished, the Falcons had seemingly completed a stirring comeback. They led 45-44 with three minutes left.
West had chances to take charge from there, but 13-for-31 foul shooting made it difficult to survive on the road.
West’s last lead came when Allison Parker hit a free throw for a 47-46 lead with 48 seconds left, but Shakira McLaughlin (17 points) dribbled past defenders for an uncontested layup that gave the Blue Devils the lead for good.
West trailed 50-47 when Avery drove for a layup with 10 seconds left. After Mooresville missed two free throws, the Falcons had the ball with a chance to win.
The ball was knocked out of bounds under Mooresville’s goal with 1.8 seconds left. West managed to get the inbounds pass to Avery, but her rushed 20-footer just missed.
“If we’d been able to play this game Wednesday as scheduled, there’s no doubt in my mind we win,” Epps said. “But we took a thumping from Statesville Friday. Mentally and physically, we weren’t ready to play less than 24 hours after that.”
west ROWAN (49) ó Avery 20, Sawyer 11, Simmons 7, Cross 6, Parker 3, Calloway 2, Baucom, Dutton, Holloway .
MOoresville (50) ó McLaughlin 17, Thomas 7, Pridgen 6, Martin 6, Sturdivant 6, Stockton 5, Smith 2, Harris 1, Holbrooks.W. Rowan 10 6 19 14 ó 49
Mooresville 16 10 18 6 ó 50