Prep Basketball: West Rowan girls 72, North Rowan 56

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 2012

By Mike London
MOUNT ULLA — It was like West Rowan star Shay Steele arrived at school well after the tardy bell, but she still aced the test.
Steele sat down with two quick fouls and didn’t score at all in the first quarter on Wednesday, but the 6-foot-2 junior still finished with 26 points, 11 boards and six blocks in a 72-56 win against visiting North Rowan.
“I try not to get those fouls, but then I had two quick ones,” Steele said. “I just had to play smarter.”
The key to the game was that the Falcons didn’t fall behind even with Steele sitting five minutes. Teammates Brittany Barber and Nycieko Dixon pushed West to a 14-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“I really thought we had it fixed as far as Shay getting in foul trouble,” West coach Todd McNeely said. “It happened tonight, but I thought everybody stepped up right there. It was a good team effort.”
Once Steele returned to the floor, the southpaw took charge. Her 10-point second quarter put West ahead 34-24 at halftime.
“Shay loves that left hand,” North coach Tony Hillian said. “You let her go to her left, and she’s going to have a field day.”
North had lost 53-43 to the Falcons in Spencer, with Steele getting a career-high 33 points. So that’s 59 in two games against the Cavaliers.
“It’s just that I know that North is going to focus on me, so I really work very hard against them,” Steele said. “I don’t want to let my team down.”
The Cavs (6-8) used up some energy in erasing an 18-point deficit for a league win on Tuesday, but they still played well. The presence of Steele in the paint and West’s zone defense eliminated any North drives to the hoop, but the Cavaliers revised a lot of scouting reports by drilling 10 3-pointers.
Taylor Sells hit five of them on her way to a career-high 20 points. Freshman Demeria Robinson buried three, while Teaunna Cuthbertson hit a pair.
“Sells hit her first one, and then she was ready to go,” McNeely said. “We knew she could shoot, but we missed assignments on her. Basically, our zone did what it was supposed to do — make ’em shoot outside — but everyone seems to up their shooting percentage against us.”
North shot so well that it was still down just 10 points after three quarters, but the Falcons (8-7) were able to expand their lead to 16 early in the fourth on a flurry by Steele and a 3-pointer that Alison Sobataka banked in.
That was West’s only 3-ball, but it punished the Cavaliers with stickbacks.
Besides a steady stream of layups by Steele, Alison Dutton (eight points, eight rebounds) may have had her best game all season.
“We hit some 3s, but we couldn’t get a lot of looks inside, and when we did we didn’t knock them down,” Hillian said. “I can’t complain, though. I thought the girls gave me everything they had to give.”
NORTH ROWAN (56) — Sells 20, Robinson 11, Cuthbertson 8, Vann 7, Brown 5, Bradley 4, Bush 1, Dickerson, Rincon, Carter, Lingle.
WEST ROWAN (72) — Steele 26, Dixon 14, Barber 11, Sobataka 9, Dutton 8, Ball 4, Harrington, Miller, Hunter, Cross, James, Ramsue.
N. Rowan 11 13 18 14 — 56
W. Rowan 14 20 18 20 — 72