Prep Basketball: East Rowan girls 58, South Rowan 45

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 3, 2012

By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY — East Rowan’s gym is always the county’s hottest, and Friday’s furious NPC girls game added another 50 degrees or so.
East overcame a lot to beat South Rowan 58-45 — a technical foul on coach Danielle Porter, 26 turnovers and early foul trouble for 6-foot-3 game-changer Karleigh Wike.
The heated victory gave East a sweep of the Raiders and basically wrapped up a top-four finish in the NPC and a playoff berth.
“We wanted it so bad,” Wike said. “Wanted it for Carmen Lowe on Senior Night and for the playoffs.”
Lowe got a Senior Night start, but the Mustangs (7-14, 5-6) got all of their points from players eligible to return next season.
Sydney Poole hit three 3s and scored 14. Wike had 12 points and 14 boards. Lauren Thomas had nine points and 10 rebounds. Kelli Fisher had nine points and 13 rebounds. Steffi Sides made six late free throws.
“I thought our guards really stepped up and played,” Porter said. “Poole stuffs the stat sheet about every game and tonight she hit some very key shots.”
Avery Locklear scored 25 for the Raiders (8-15, 4-7). Alexa Allison added 11.
When Wike got her third foul with five minutes left in the second quarter — Kayla Corriher drew an offensive foul — Porter had to sit down her shotblocker and chief offensive threat. East didn’t fall apart, though, and still led 18-17 at halftime.
Then Porter had a decision to make. She sent Wike out to start the second half.
“I told Karleigh she wouldn’t do us any good playing scared,” Porter said. “She had to go play her normal game.”
Wike owned the pivotal first three minutes of the second half. She hit a hook shot. She made a stickback. She rejected a shot in the lane. Then she scored off a set inbounds play. Her work gave the Mustangs a lead they never lost.
“I have big expectations for myself, so when I got off to the bad start I was a little frustrated,” Wike said. “But our guards picked us up when I was out. Then we used the advantage in size we have in the second half.”
The Mustangs creamed the Raiders 45-29 on the boards to negate South’s 26-16 edge in the turnover column.
Locklear made some terrific driving layups, but as a team South shot 27 percent.
East shot 50 percent in the second half and was able to hold off a push by the Raiders that made it a 46-41 game with two minutes left. That’s when Sides, double-teamed in the corner, spotted Fisher open for a backbreaking shot from the baseline.
“This one was my fault,” South coach Jarrod Smith said. “We’d been playing so well that I let our girls get too comfortable. I didn’t push them hard enough to get them ready to beat East.”
SOUTH ROWAN (45) — Locklear 25, Allison 11, L. Corriher 3, K. Corriher 2, McCoy 2, Register 2, Miller, Stamey.
EAST ROWAN (58) — Poole 14, Wike 12, Sides 10, Thomas 9, Fisher 9, Fry 4, Lowe.
S. Rowan 10 7 11 17 — 45
E. Rowan 14 4 18 22 — 58