Moir Christmas Classic: West Rowan girls 53, Davie 51
By Bret Strelow
West Rowan girls coach Erich Epps said he was proud of his players. He was also sympathetic to Davie counterpart Debbie Evans.
The Falcons moved on to the Sam Moir Christmas Classic championship game with a 53-51 victory Tuesday afternoon at Catawba’s Goodman Gym. Davie, which trailed 25-9 after one quarter, had possession three times in the final 20 seconds with a chance to tie the score or possibly pull ahead.
Ashley Smoot fell on her back after releasing a contested 3-pointer over West’s Allison Parker, and time expired as the shot came up short. Davie coaches, players and fans pleaded for a foul.
“It was a foul, probably,” Epps said. “I’m not going to question the officials, but I would have been upset, too. The Davie coaches had every right. It was one of those calls that could have gone either way. I’m one that tells it like it is. In my eyes, I thought it was a foul, but I’ll take it.”
The Falcons, who will be making their first final appearance since 2003 when they face Salisbury today at 6:30 p.m., led 52-43 with 31/2 minutes remaining against Davie.
The War Eagles (8-2) were behind 53-49 before Smoot scored on a putback with 21.8 seconds left. Janna Dixon stole a deflected inbounds pass and missed a short jumper.
West (6-2) missed the front end of a one-and-one, and a baby hook from Davie’s Tia Clement bounced off the back of the rim.
The Falcons came up empty on another one-and-one with 8.0 seconds left, and Amy Stellar passed to Smoot for a potential game-winner from the left wing.
“You can’t ask for anything more than three good looks at the basket to give yourself a tie or go ahead,” Evans said. “I’m glad we had the fight to get it as tight as we did.”
West used an 18-5 run over the final four minutes of the first quarter to take control.
Ayana Avery (game-high 18 points) accounted for 10 of the Falcons’ first 25, and five teammates also scored in a quarter that ended with a long 3-pointer from Amber Holloway.
“I love a 25-point quarter, but if the next quarter is a five-point quarter, I’d settle for 16 and 16,” Epps said.
West led 30-22 at halftime and pulled ahead 37-27 on a 3-pointer from Avery with 5:43 left in the third quarter.
The Falcons didn’t score again in the quarter, committing nine turnovers and attempting only four shots during that stretch. Davie faced a 37-32 deficit heading to the last eight minutes.
“It was ugly because we threw it away, threw it away, threw it away, threw it away and threw it away,” Epps said. “I told them to throw it to me instead of throwing it to the other team.”
West held a 40-36 lead early in the fourth quarter when it created some separation. Avery weaved her way through Davie’s press and hit Desere Cross (12 points, six rebounds) for a layup.
Cross made another layup a minute later, and her third basket of the quarter ó coming on Avery’s fifth assist of the game ó pushed the Falcons in front 50-43.
Ashley Dutton took a pass from Cross and drilled a jumper from the left wing on West’s next possession.
“It was frustrating, but we pulled it together in the end,” Cross said. “I think it was a combination of working together and passing the ball.”
NOTE: Davie will play Carson in a third-place game today at 3 p.m.
WEST ROWAN (53) ó Avery 18, Cross 12, Holloway 9, Steele 5, Ball 4, As.Dutton 4, Parker 1, Watkins, Barber.
DAVIE COUNTY (51) ó J.Dixon 14, Steed 10, Clement 10, Smoot 5, Stellar 4, Shelton 2, K.Dixon 2, Holland 2, Tucker 2, Stevenson, Hendricks, Turner.
W. Rowan 25 5 7 16 ó 53
Davie Co. 9 13 10 19 ó 51