Prep Basketball: West Rowan girls 65, East Rowan 52
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY — East Rowan student Josie McNeely sported a “Mustangs” sweatshirt for Monday’s boys game, but she wore a West Rowan pullover over the top of it while the girls teams were playing.
“My Dad’s first,” McNeely explained with a smile, and proved it with a family hug.
McNeely’s father, Todd, is West’s first-year coach. It was a strange night for him because he’s invested years coaching some of East’s girls.
“I was just hoping,” he joked, “that I wouldn’t yell at the wrong people.”
He must have yelled at the right ones. West prevailed 65-52 and is in first place in the NPC.
East (1-9, 1-2) actually led 47-46 early in the fourth quarter, but West dominated the final minutes behind Shay Steele (19 points, seven rebounds, six steals), Brittany Barber (career-high 16 points) and Nycieko Dixon (14 points, five assists, five steals).
“Those last few minutes, we finally ran our offense perfectly,” Coach McNeely said.
East sophomore Karleigh Wike had 18 points and 13 rebounds, but she finally ran out of gas. She didn’t score in the fourth quarter.
“Karleigh’s scoring waned some, but her leadership didn’t,” East coach Danielle Porter said. “She’s crossed some barriers the last two weeks.”
The 6-foot-3 Wike shot over the 6-2 Steele for two early buckets that gave East some confidence, and the Mustangs led 16-13 after a quarter.
Barber and Steele teamed for 15 second-quarter points, as West raced to a 35-26 halftime edge.
Wike and Sydney Poole led an East charge that cut West’s lead to three points after three quarters, and a spree by Carmen Lowe put East ahead. The Mustangs led 47-46 after Lowe’s stickback with 6:54 remaining.
West appeared to be in serious trouble, but a runner by Dixon put the Falcons back on top to stay.
Back-to-back steals and drives for layups by Steele lifted the Falcons (4-3, 3-0) out of danger.
Down the stretch, East turned it over, and West kept executing.
“We focused,” Barber said. “We passed the ball more and we ran our plays a whole lot better.”
Both coaches said their teams are moving in the right direction.
“We made progress, but we panicked and made bad decisions in the fourth quarter,” Porter said. “Instead of being scoring threats, we were playing hot potato.”
WEST ROWAN (65) —Steele 19, Barber 16, Dixon 14, Dutton 6, Harrington 5, Sobataka 3, Hunter 2, Miller, Landy.
EAST ROWAN (52) — Wike 18, Poole 7, Sides 7, Fisher 6, Lowe 5, Thomas 4, Fry 3, Brown 2, Gullett.
W. Rowan 13 22 11 19 — 65
E. Rowan 16 10 17 9 — 52
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