SPENCER — West Rowan’s Shay Steele completed her long journey to 1,000 points on Friday.
The 6-foot-2 senior reached the milestone in the North Rowan gym, which was probably the most likely place for it to happen. Steele has scored 153 points against the Cavaliers including her career high of 33 last season. This time she scored 26 to lead the Falcons to a 73-58 win.
After Steele reached 1,000 on a layup midway through the second quarter, West coach Todd McNeely called timeout so the team could acknowledge her feat, and Steele received a commemorative ball in the locker room after the contest.
“I’m going to make a little things for that ball and put it up high in my room,” said Steele, who has signed with Morehead State.
Steele pulled down 13 rebounds in addition to her points, and she got plenty of help.
Alison Sobataka made five straight shots at one point, four of them 3-pointers, and scored a career high 19. Nycieko Dixon made three early steals to get West off to a torrid start and finished with 15 points. Khaila Hall had eight assists, and Anna Edwards scored five points off the bench in the second quarter as West (2-0) pushed to a 48-22 halftime lead.
“We were focused as a team and had our heads in it,” Steele said.
Dixon had nine early points as West jumped out 20-3 in a first quarter that decided the game.
“That first quarter was the difference,” North coach Brian Lytton said. “You try hard to prepare for it, but it wasn’t just our first game of this season, it was the very first varsity game for a lot of our girls. Obviously, in that first quarter, we didn’t score nearly enough and we gave up way too many.”
In that quarter, North shot 1-for-15 from the floor and made 11 turnovers, but the Cavaliers played decent basketball after that. West cleared the bench in the second half, but it was still noteworthy that North outscored the Falcons 36-25 after halftime.
“We’re still trying to see what our bench can do and we’re still learning how to keep playing hard with a lead,” McNeely said.
Fredejah Royer scored 12 in the lane for the Cavaliers. Demeria Robinson had nine of her 11 points after halftime, and Anna Lingle got eight of her 10 in a hot second quarter. Taylor Sells hit two 3-pointers. Kayla Smith and Special Washington also knocked down a 3-ball apiece.
North battled evenly with West in the third quarter, even though Sobataka was scorching.
“West is very good and is going to get a lot of points in transition and off the offensive board,” Lytton said. “When they start making 3-pointers like that, it’s almost unfair, but we did do a better job on the boards in the second half. That’s why were able to compete with them some.”
West led by 25 after three quarters, but North finished the game on a 14-2 run to make the final score respectable.
“North kept playing hard, and they are a very talented team,” Sobataka said. “They’re young, but they’re going to be good.”
Mostly, though, this night was about Steele, who reached 1,000 in a gym where the rims have always been kind to her.
“I’m happy for her,” Sobataka said. “Even when I was a freshman on the jayvees, she was supportive of me. She’s always been a great teammate.”
WEST ROWAN (73) — Steele 26, Sobataka 19, Dixon 15, Hall 6, Edwards 5, S. Miller 2, Q. Miller, Cross, Freeze, Gibbons, James, Alessandrini.
NORTH ROWAN(58) — Royer 12, Robinson 11, Lingle 10, Sells 6, Washington 6, Farmer 5, Smith 5, Allen 2, Carter 1.
W. Rowan 20 28 17 8 — 73
N. Rowan 3 19 18 18 — 58