Prep basketball: Salisbury girls 67, East Rowan 28

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 5, 2011

By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY — Salisbury’s girls basketball program extended its county winning streak to 36 games with a 67-28 romp in the East Rowan gym on Monday.
The faces and names change, but the athleticism, quickness and relentless defense never seem to. This is a program that has won 226 of its last 243 outings.
“They made more turnovers than usual, but that was about the only difference,” East coach Danielle Porter said. “Salisbury is still very good. We let them dictate the pace, and their pressure got to us.”
The Hornets (2-1) put together a wicked 25-0 run that turned an 8-7 struggle into a 33-7 breeze against the overwhelmed Mustangs.
Karleigh Wike scored off an inbounds play to bring East within 8-7 with 3:40 left in the first quarter, but the Mustangs (0-5) were shut out for the next 11 minutes. endall Brown ended the drought with a free throw with 25 seconds left in the half.
Brielle Blaire is the given for the Hornets. A sophomore with Division I talent, she had an awful start but still scored 20 points, pulled down eight rebounds and blocked three shots. Once she got it going, she made jaws drop, drilling 3s and rejecting jumpers.
“I think there’s always some pregame jitters and anxiety,” said Blaire, explaining why she missed her first six shot attempts. “I took some bad shots, but then I calmed down and did a better job of letting the game come to me.”
Blaire is like a queen on a chessboard, able to move inside or out and able to employ either finesse or power. Salisbury coach Chris McNeil took advantage of her versatility.
“We adjusted, moved Brielle from the post out to the small forward,” he explained. “She kept trying to shoot over a very tall player (Wike), so we moved her outside and she found a rhythm.”
Blaire’s first bucket was a 3-pointer that pushed the Hornets’ lead to 21-7. Prior to that shot, the Hornets got points off Doreen Richardson’s steals and Patreece Lattimore’s work on the boards.
The Hornets have lightning-quick players in Richardson and Vashti Usry, and they made life miserable for East’s guards. The Mustangs turned it over 11 times in the first quarter alone and 19 times in the first half.
“The girls know the cuts and passes that they have to make for us to be successful,” Porter said. “We’d have a couple of good possessions and play with them for a while, but then we’ve have some mental lapses.”
East’s best offensive quarter was a 14-point third in which Lauren Thomas hit two 3-pointers, but it still couldn’t keep pace with the Hornets.
Usry finished with a loud bang for Salisbury, knocking down two fourth-quarter 3s and finishing with 16 points.
“The girls have worked very hard the last few weeks on the basics,” McNeil said. “But it’s still a very patient process. The pieces are there, but we have to assemble the puzzle.”
The puzzle is already taking shape, and the Hornets still haven’t lost to East since early in the 2002-03 season.
SALISBURY (67) — B. Blaire 20, Usry 16, Richardson 9, A. Blaire 8, Lattimore 8, Caldwell 4, Harris 2, Connor.
EAST ROWAN (28) — Thomas 8, Wike 7, Poole 4, Gullett 2, Fisher 2, Lowe 2, Sides 2, Brown 1, Fry, Rummage.
Salisbury 16 19 19 13 — 67
E. Rowan 7 1 14 6 — 28
SALISBURY (??) — Strickland 11, Cole 5, Batten 4, Thompson 4, Gaines 3, Maness 3, Moody 2, Hudson 2, Culberson 1, Brown.
EAST ROWAN (??) — Cuthbertson 15, Bush 10, Robinson 9, Sells 6, Brown 5, Vann 4, Bradley 3, Carter, Rincon, Lingle, Dickerson.
Salisbury 00 00 00 00 — 00
E. Rowan 00 00 00 00 — 00