Prep Basketball: East Rowan girls 47, West Iredell 42
By David Shaw
GRANITE QUARRY ó It seemed strange to label this a must-win for the East Rowan girls basketball team.
But in many ways Fridayís 47-42 victory over stubborn West Iredell was one of those win-or-pack-it-in contests.
ěIt was a game we had to have,î senior Taylor Honeycutt said after the Mustangs (4-10, 2-4 NPC) curbed a four-game losing streak. ěThis is the second time around the conference. We needed a fresh start.î
They got it despite the continued absence of starters Ashley Goins (quad) and Karleigh Wike (elbow), both sidelined with injuries. Without them the Mustangs have learned to wing it ó and this was the first time they succeeded.
ěWeíre working without our starting point guard and starting center,î explained first-year coach Danielle Porter. ěThese girls have had to fill roles theyíre not that comfortable with. Theyíve compensated with heart and hustle and things that we saw tonight.î
Nothing came easy against West (3-11, 2-4), a team that outscored ER 72-57 a month ago. East received 11 first-half points from take-charge senior Olivia Sabo. She failed to score in the second half, but reeled in 14 rebounds by gameís end.
ěMy three was a little off tonight,î she said with a post-game smile. ěBut my mind was made up to just go out there and play the game I love ó shooting, rebounding, hustling, getting on the floor.î
It was a close match throughout. West scored the gameís first six points but never led after Eastís Caroline Fry buried a 3-pointer from the left side, providing a 17-15 edge with 6:06 remaining in the first half.
Another 3-ball ó this one by Honeycutt midway through the fourth quarter ó gave the Mustangs a 43-38 lead and enough breathing room to fend off the guests, who converted only three of 14 free throws in the final period. They missed 17 of 28 altogether.
ěIf we make those free throws, itís not even a close game,î said losing coach Phil Fox. ěYouíve got to execute. We didnít.î
Neither did East, which went 2-for-9 from the line in the fourth quarter. Yet the Mustangs found an escape door and won a game they absolutely had to win.
ěSometimes heart and hustle can win basketball games,î said Honeycutt. ěWe proved that tonight.î
WEST IREDELL (42) ó Ellis 14, Sigmon 11, Marshall 5, Gaines 4, Ijames 4, Gatton 4.
EAST ROWAN (47) ó Sabo 11, Honeycutt 10, Fry 8, Poole 8, Gullett 4, Lowe 4, Sides 2, Drew, Rummage.
W. Iredell 10 13 12 7 ó 42
E. Rowan 11 14 13 9 ó 47