Prep basketball: Carson girls 53, West Rowan 38
By Mike London
CHINA GROVE — Carson’s girls beat West Rowan 53-38 on Monday to clinch a share of their first conference championship.
The 6-year-old Cougars (21-1, 11-0) obviously have come a long way from their roots — 1-22, 1-23 and 2-22 — in the school’s first three seasons of NPC competition.
“They’ve seen the basement and now they’re seeing the peak,” West coach Todd McNeely said. “Congratulations to them.”
Just as it did in the first meeting of the teams, West (11-12, 5-6) limited Carson scorers Kelly Dulkoski and Chloe Monroe.
But senior Sarrah Holman had her second big night against the Falcons, leading all scorers with 16.
“I was just ready to play because West is always a big game,” Holman said. “Even when I missed some shots, I knew had to be confident and keep shooting.”
Holman had gone through a recent slump (four points in one three-game span) that made the Cougars look a lot more beatable, but she appears to be back on track.
“Sarrah is huge for us,” Carson coach Brooke Misenheimer said. “When she’s playing well, that’s another scorer for teams to worry about.”
West fought hard in the first half, and Carson’s lead was a precarious 30-23 at halftime.
But the Cougars played airtight defense after halftime, limiting the Falcons to just three field goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
“We cracked down on them,” Holman said.
If you play West man-to-man, the key is finding some way to contain 6-foot-2 lefty Shay Steele, and Carson’s 5-10 Allison Blackwell got the job done.
Steele finished with 12 points, but she scored just three after halftime on 1-for-7 shooting.
“I just focused on forcing her to her right every time,” Blackwell said. “And I knew I had help behind me.”
Carson shot just 4-for-16 in the third quarter, but its defense was so suffocating that it still expanded its lead to double digits.
“Ultimately, it was our defense that won this game,” Misenheimer said. “We held a very dangerous team to 38 points, so it’s a good win.”
West was 1-for-15 from the field in the fourth quarter until Alison Dutton made a couple of shots in the final minute or so.
The Falcons shot 23 percent from the floor for the game.
“I don’t know that it was so much what Carson was doing to us, as what we were doing to ourselves,” McNeely said. “We just didn’t have any team continuity on offense. That’s been an issue most of the year.”
If there was any doubt left in anyone’s mind, Carson’s Tyesha Phillips ended it by picking up the fourth and fifth fouls on Steele with back-to-back drives to the hoop. Steele fouled out with Carson leading 47-33 with 3:35 remaining.
“Shay is going to block shots, but you can’t be timid and you have to keep attacking,” Misenheimer said. “That’s what Tyesha did.”
Nycieko Dixon also scored 12 points for the Falcons, but she didn’t score in the fourth quarter.
“We just couldn’t get anything to fall,” Dixon said. “Defensively, we could’ve stopped them man-to-man, but we got into foul trouble in the first half.”
Carson shot a low percentage from the field, but it did make eight 3s. Holman hit three, Blackwell and Dulkoski made two each, and Monroe made one.
Carson reserve Alex Allen contributed a big third quarter in the paint, pulling down five rebounds and blocking two shots in the period.
Carson still has work to do. It plays second-place North Iredell at home on Wednesday. A North Iredell win would give the Raiders a share of the title.
“It’s just huge for us to be playing in a game like that,” Misenheimer said. “Playing for an outright championship means a lot to us.”
NOTES: Girls who have attended Carson summer camps will be admitted free on Wednesday if they wear their orange camp shirts.
WEST ROWAN (38) — Steele 12, Dixon 12, Dutton 8, Barber 4, Sobataka 2, Ball, Ramsue, Miller, James, Landy, Hunter, Cross.
CARSON (53) — Holman 16, Blackwell 11, Dulkoski 11, Phillips 9, Allen 4, Monroe 3, Barringer 1, Cole, Stirewalt, Parks.
W. Rowan 7 16 8 7 — 38
Carson 10 20 13 12 — 55