Prep Basketball: Carson girls 64, West Rowan 53
By Mike London
MOUNT ULLA — Best pals Kelly Dulkoski and Alison Sobataka left the West Rowan gym together, all smiles, shortly after they spent 32 minutes clawing at each other.
West’s Sobotaka had the defensive assignment on Carson’s Dulkoski in the triangle-and-two defense that West coach Todd McNeely threw at the high-powered Cougars. West’s quick guard Nycieko Dixon had the other man-to-man assignment against Carson shooter Chloe Monroe.
Carson prevailed 64-53 to stay unbeaten in the NPC, but it was a fight. The triangle-and-two limited Dulkoski to 11 points and Monroe to four. On a normal night, they combine for 32.
“The gameplan worked for the most part,” McNeely said. “We played with them, but we just had a few turnovers too many.”
The pivotal person in the drama was Carson’s Sarrah Holman. Holman is a good player, but West invited her to shoot almost uncontested from the 3-point line.
Holman started cold and got colder, and after a while her battle was more mental than physical. She shot 3-for-16 in the first half, and her team shot 25 percent.
“It’s tough after you miss several,” Carson coach Brooke Misenheimer said. “It’s hard to keep that smooth stroke when the shots just aren’t dropping. But we kept telling Sarrah every timeout and again at halftime that she had to keep shooting. We wanted to keep running our normal offense, and we didn’t want other girls forcing shots. We had to trust in her.”
Carson led 28-23 at halftime, only because West (7-7, 3-2) turned it over 15 times.
The bad news for the Cougars was that West’s 6-foot-2 star Shay Steele got to halftime with no fouls on her. That meant McNeely could unleash her as a shot-blocking force in the second half.
Holman hit two 3s in the third quarter to offset Steele’s eight-point period, and the Cougars (14-1, 5-0) maintained a small lead. The critical juncture came early in the fourth quarter. Carson led 44-40, West had momentum, and the crowd was roaring — until Dulkoski swished a deep 3 from straightaway.
“I just knew we really needed to score right there,” Dulkoski said. “It was a shot I had to make.”
Dulkoski added a free throw moments later, and on Carson’s next possession she penetrated and kicked out to a wide-open Holman. Holman buried her sixth 3 for an 11-point lead, and the Cougars were headed to victory.
“Sarrah knocked down huge shots for us,” Dulkoski said. “Not our best game, but we still did enough to win.”
Holman scored 21. Allison Blackwell added 13 for Carson before fouling out. Tyesha Phillips and Alex Allen combined for 13 huge boards in the second half.
Steele had 19 points and 17 rebounds for West. Dixon scored 16. Sobataka had 10.
CARSON (64) — Holman 21, Blackwell 13, Dulkoski 11, Allen 7, Phillips 6, Monroe 4, Barringer 2.
WEST ROWAN (53) — Steele 19, Dixon 16, Sobataka 10, Ball 4, Barber 2, Miller 2, Hunter, Ramsue, Dutton.
Carson 11 17 16 20 — 64
W. Rowan 10 13 16 14 — 53