Salisbury girls 72, West Rowan 44
By David Shaw
MOUNT ULLA — It was Salisbury’s third-best offensive output of the season, but all coach Chris McNeil wanted to talk about Wednesday night was defense.
The Hornets placed five scorers in double figures in their final non-league tuneup, a 72-44 win at West Rowan. More importantly, they forced 24 turnovers — including 10 in the first quarter.
“Defensive intensity,” McNeil said after SHS (9-1) gained its ninth straight victory. “That’s all we’ve worked on this week in practice. We wanted to execute traps, help-side defense and once again, the game-plan was implemented.”
Nobody had a tougher defensive assignment than Salisbury guard Ashia Holmes. The 5-foot-8 junior was matched against West’s Ayana Avery, Rowan’s leading scorer and owner of a radiant 19 points-per-game average.
“The whole thing is pick her up early and don’t give her any space,” Holmes said. “If you give her space she’ll pull it.”
Avery was held scoreless in the first half, when Salibury mounted a 43-12 lead. “She was on me the whole time,” Avery said after finishing with a team-high 12 points. “I was lucky to get any breathing room.”
West coach Erich Epps made a hasty, post-game exit. But apparently he felt it was a lost cause midway through the first quarter, when Salisbury scored the first 11 points of the match. “Don’t worry about the scoreboard tonight,” he yelled from the Falcons’ bench. “Just play basketball.”
Holmes paced the Hornets with 13 points and five steals. Olivia Rankin added 11 points and eight rebounds while senior Isis Miller — idled all season with shin splints — had four points and four rebounds in her first game.
“She’s important to the team,” Holmes said. “With her we have another strong defender and rebounder off the bench.”
NOTES: West (2-1 NPC) hosts East Rowan tonight. Salisbury launches its CCC season Friday at West Davidson.
SALISBURY (72) — As.Holmes 13, Richardson 12, Blaire 11, Ay. Holmes 11, Rankin 11, Heilig 6, Miller 4, Hicks 2, Allison 2, Thompson, Feamster.
WEST ROWAN (44) — Avery 12, Sobataka 7, Ball 6, Dixon 6, Steele 5, Dutton 2, Harrington 2, Barber 2, Parker 2, Watson, Caldwell, Miller.
Salisbury 24 19 16 13 — 72
W. Rowan 8 4 13 19 — 44