Prep Basketball: West Rowan girls 53, North Rowan 43
By Mike London
SPENCER — Birthday girl Shay Steele blew out 17 candles, and then tried her best to blow out North Rowan on Wednesday night.
Steele, a 6-foot-2 junior, shattered her previous career-best with 33 points in a 53-43 win against the Cavaliers. Steele accounted for 22 of the Falcons’ 32 second-half points.
“We’d gamble for a steal and then she was gone for a layup,” sighed North coach Tony Hillian.
Steele made one short jumper and went 5-for-7 from the foul line. Her other 26 points came on swooping drives or layups from the left side. She can fly and she had several coast-to-coast efforts. Several times, she grabbed the defensive board and finished on the other end. Once she blocked a shot and still out-sprinted everyone on both teams for a layup.
Steele had eight rebounds and seven blocks on top of the points.
“I don’t really think it was my birthday that had me hyped up,” Steele said. “I just came over here ready to play because I knew North would try very hard to stop me.”
North couldn’t, although the Cavaliers (4-4) did stop some Falcons. Guards Tinka Bush and Tiffany Brown were all over the place and harassed West into 25 turnovers.
“The hustle and effort was all I could ever ask for,” Hillian said. “We just couldn’t make enough shots.”
The first quarter set the game of basketball back several decades. The Falcons (5-3) turned it over 10 times, yet managed to take a 10-5 lead.
“Our guards were off just a little bit,” West coach Todd McNeely said. “It was like everyone had a virus.”
Steele and Brittany Barber scored all of West’s 11 points in the second quarter, and the Falcons managed a 21-18 edge at the break.
West’s 1-3-1 zone caused some trouble for cold-shooting North after halftime, and Steele’s 13-point third quarter finally separated the teams. She hit six straight field-goal attempts at one point.
“We had to adjust to a team playing man-to-man as hard as North was,” Steele said. “They were trying to get into our guards’ heads some, but we started setting screens and making better passes.”
Demeria Robinson came off the bench to score 11 for North. Brown and Teaunna Cuthbertson finished with nine points each.
But this was Steele’s night.
“When teams play us man-to-man, we should flourish with the matchup that Shay gives us,” McNeely said. “But it was a team win. We grew a little more and we took another baby-step. We’re still going forward.”
WEST ROWAN (53) — Steele 33, Barber 10, Dixon 8, Sobataka 2, Dutton, Harrington, Landy, Hunter, Cross.
NORTH ROWAN (43) — Robinson 11, Cuthbertson 9, Brown 9, Bradley 6, Sells 5, Bush 2, Dickerson 1, Rincon, Lingle, Vann.
W. Rowan 10 11 19 13 — 53
N. Rowan 5 13 13 12 — 43