Moir Christmas Classic: Salisbury girls 65, West Rowan 51
By Jordan Honeycutt
SALISBURY — The Moir Classic has been more like three days of practice for the Salisbury girls basketball team over the past few years.
The Hornets have won eight consecutive Christmas titles, embarrassing and dismantling opponents –– but those days just may be history.
A 65-51 victory over West Rowan in the girls semifinal Wednesday, tested the Hornets mettle.
West trailed by only eight points at halftime and were visibly frustrating Salisbury with their peskiness.
“We knew West was tough, we just played them the other day and it was close, so we knew what to expect,”Salisbury coach Chris McNeil said. “We planned our defense around Shay (Steele) and Nene (Dixon), but give West credit. They found holes and Brittany Barber killed us tonight.”
The game was definitely unchartered waters for the Hornets, as you could see by McNeil’s timeout with four minutes left and West trailing by nine.
“They were disinterested and slumped over and I had to tell them to look at the scoreboard, that they were still winning. I think they get too used to winning big — that they think they have to every night. But a W is a W,” McNeil said.
Barber shot a stellar 8-for-14 from the field in 29 minutes of play to lead the Falcons’ upset bid.
“You are never happy with a loss, but we have played them close twice now and it is really pleasing to see because of how good they are,” West Rowan coach Todd McNeely said. “We made a huge step forward tonight and our girls showed a lot of heart to fight back and I am very proud to see them getting it.”
Brielle Blaire and Doreen Richardson led the way as usual for Salisbury with 20 and 16 points.
Blaire also grabbed 20 rebounds in her battle in the paint with Steele.
Much like Barber for West, Salisbury received some much needed help from another group of Hornets.
Reserve players Nyasia Harris, Ashley Blaire and Patreece Lattimore combined for 18 points off the bench, which proved to be the difference.
Salisbury advances to the final tonight, yet again and hopes to ring in 2012 with a ninth straight championship.
WEST ROWAN (51) — Barber 16, Steele 14, Dixon 12, Sobataka 5, Miler 2, Dutton 2, Harrington, Hunter, Landy.
SALISBURY (65) — B. Blaire 20, Richardson 16, Harris 8, Usry 7, A. Blaire 6, Lattimore 4, Caldwell 2, Connor 2, Angle.
W. Rowan 12 11 11 17 — 51
Salisbury 14 17 18 16 — 65