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Prep Basketball: West Rowan girls 61, Davie 51: McNeely wins debut as Falcons' coach

By David Shaw
dshaw@salisburypost.com
MOUNT ULLA — The getting-to-know-you period for new coach Todd McNeely and West Rowan girls basketball team is through — but obviously, the Falcons aren’t.
West made that clear when it opened its season with a well-played 61-51 win against visiting Davie County on Tuesday.
“Any win is a good win,” McNeely said after prevailing in his debut. “Especially a first win. I think we got the opening-game jitters at the end of the game, but we did all right.”
The Falcons placed four scorers in double figures, paced by junior guard Allison Sobataka’s 13 points. Shay Steele, Brooke Harrington and Tabitha Ball added 10 apiece.
“I guess every team needs a warmup,” said Steele, a lanky 6-foot-2 junior. “This was almost like a preseason game. But we did a lot of things right.”
And they did them right from the start. Sobataka hit the first of her three 3-pointers and Harrington the first of her two long balls in the opening three minutes, lifting West to a quick 8-0 lead. Davie (0-4) didn’t get on the scoreboard until junior guard Amy Steller sank a 10-footer from the right side midway through the first period.
“West Rowan is just a very talented team that can play above us,” said losing coach Denny Key. “The mistakes we made tonight we can learn from. But we just got beat by a bigger, better team.”
West put the game away in the second quarter, when it used a 15-2 spurt to open a 31-12 lead. McNeely’s second-period lineup included quick-footed guards Brittany Barber and Nene Dixon, neither of whom played in the first quarter.
“We came in with some fresh bodies,” McNeely said. “We can go 10 deep or even 13. But a lot of these girls never played varsity before so you try things. You experiment.”
Steele scored seven points during the decisive spree, including a couple of fast-break buckets after making steals.
“We have no kind of matchup with her,” Key said. “In fact, we turned down at least two good opportunities to draw offensive fouls against her. But that, and most of our problems, are fixable.”
More than anything, West’s swarming defense that forced 25 turnovers was in mid-season form.
“(McNeely) really emphasizes that,” said Sobataka. “He always wants us attacking the ball, trapping, causing turnovers and making layups.”
Asked for an early-season report card, Sobataka gave the Falcons a B-plus for their opening-night effort.
“But,” she smiled coyly, “we’re going to get some A’s.”

NOTES: Steller and teammate Sydney Wooten each scored a game-high 14 points. … Steele made six steals for West and Dixon contributed eight points, eight assists and six steals.
DAVIE (51) — Stellar 14, Wooten 14, Shelton 8, Smith 5, Jones 4, Bohannon 4, Peterson 2.
WEST ROWAN (61) — Sobatka 13, Steele 10, Harrington 10, Ball 10, Dixon 8, Barber 6, Dutton 2, Hunter 2, James, Miller.
Davie 10 15 13 13 — 51
W. Rowan 16 19 16 10 — 61

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