Prep basketball: Carson girls 60, West Rowan 28
By Mike London
STATESVILLE — “We’ve got it back!” Carson assistant coach Doug Faison barked at the end of Thursday’s romp, and West Rowan wasn’t really in a position to argue.
Carson’s second-seeded girls jumped out to leads of 12-0 and 22-2 and crushed the Falcons 60-28 in a semifinal game in the NPC tournament played at neutral Statesville.
“We wanted to hit them in the mouth early,” said Carson coach Brooke Misenheimer, sounding like one of her football colleagues. “It’s like lately we’ve been trying to conserve energy, but it’s important for us to be focused and playing hard from the get-go.”
Seventh-ranked Carson (23-2) often looked awesome in December and early January but appeared to hit the wall recently with a series of shaky wins and a lopsided home loss to surging North Iredell that forced them to share the NPC title.
The Cougars won’t have to wait long to find out if they’re really back. Their rematch with top-seeded North Iredell (18-5) is tonight at 6 p.m., and more than a trophy and bragging rights will be at stake. The winners gets the NPC’s No. 1 seed for the 3A playoffs.
“It’s a chance to redeem ourselves,” Misenheimer said. “We’re excited about earning that opportunity.”
North Iredell has won seven straight since it lost to Carson on Jan. 13, and this matchup likely features two of the state’s top 10 3A clubs.
Allison Blackwell led Carson’s semifinal slaughter with 19 points and 13 rebounds. She had a double-double — 15 and 10 — by the time the first half was in the books. With some help from reserve Katherine Barringer, she also held West star Shay Steele to 11 points.
“We were just ready to play and ready to prove we can win,” Blackwell said.
Third-seeded West (13-13) had played two respectable games against the Cougars in the regular season, using a lot of triangle-and-two defense and losing 64-53 and 55-38.
The Falcons opened in a zone this time, and the Cougars didn’t seem to mind.
“We wanted to try something different with the zone, but they were hitting,” West coach Todd McNeely explained. “Then we went man-to-man, but we lost assignments, and when you lose assignments against Carson, they shoot layups. They just played very well tonight. When they’ve got it going inside and outside like that, they’re not gonna get beat.”
Blackwell, Kelly Dulkoski and Chloe Monroe all hit 3-pointers in a first quarter that ended with Carson comfortably on top 17-2. When Blackwell scored inside just over a minute into the second quarter, Carson’s lead was 22-2.
Carson cooled offensively in the second quarter, but the defensive heat was a constant. West is a pretty decent offensive team that averages better than 50 points per game, but it was 30-10 at halftime.
“Hold that team to 10 points in a half, and it’s something to be proud of,” Misenheimer said.
Besides limiting Steele, Carson did a good job of eliminating open looks for guard Nycieko Dixon, the Falcons’ other big scorer.
“Defensively, we did what we were supposed to do as far as defending Shay and Nycieko,” said Carson forward Tyesha Phillips, who pulled down 10 rebounds. “We went out there with 100-percent hustle tonight, and even when we weren’t making shots we still picked each other up and played good defense.”
Carson clicked on all cylinders. It shot well, defended well, rebounded well, passed well and ran the floor well.
And the bench — especially Alex Allen, who had an eight-point third quarter — did its part.
“Carson was just on tonight, and while we’ve made real strides this season as far as discipline an attitude, we’ve still got a lot of things to work on as far as execution,” McNeely said. “But we’re not done yet.”
West will join the Cougars in the playoffs next week.
WEST ROWAN (28) — Steele 11, Dixon 8, Barber 4, Sobataka 3, Miller 2, Ramsue, Edwards, Cross, Alessandrini, Hunter, James.
CARSON (60) — Blackwell 19, Monroe 11, Allen 10, Dulkoski 7, Holman 4, Phillips 4, Cole 4, Gray 1, Van Voorhis, Stirewalt, Parks.
W. Rowan 2 8 10 8 — 28
Carson 17 13 15 15 — 60