Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 5, 2013

GRANITE QUARRY — West Rowan’s unbeaten girls have scored at least 55 in every game, but how they got to 55 on Friday was one for the books.
The odd split for the Falcons was nine points in the first half; 46 in the second, in a 55-47 NPC win at East Rowan.
“Mama said there’d be days like this,” said under-the-weather coach Todd McNeely. “We couldn’t buy one in the first half. The second half, we finally decided we were ready to play the world, and those last 12 minutes we had the kind of intensity we had in the Christmas tournament.”
Moir MVP Shay Steele, who had all nine West points in the first half, poured in 25 in the second half to finish with 34.
West’s Nycieko Dixon, Alison Sobataka and Khaila Hall combine for almost 35 points per game, but they had a combined zero in the first half.
Midway through the third quarter, West (13-0, 3-0) was down 30-14, and Steele and Dixon both had three fouls, but the Falcons still pulled it out.
East (9-5, 1-2) played excellent defense in the first half — West shot an amazing 3-for-29 — and the Mustangs also dominated West on the boards 24-10. In the first half, East’s Kelli Fisher outrebounded the Falcons by herself.
West’s switch from a zone press to a man-to-man press in the second half was the biggest strategic change, but more than anything, it came down to which way the whistles blew.
Dixon drew a game-changing third foul on East’s 6-foot-4 Karleigh Wike right at the outset of the second half.
Wike had blocked five shots in the first half and altered 10 more, and momentum swung for good when Steele drove and Wike got her fourth foul with 3:12 left in the third quarter.
“It was stressful to get four that early,” Wike said. “I lost my voice giving advice to my teammates from the bench. Shay is so hard to stop.”
East led 30-21 when Wike sat down. By the end of the quarter, West was ahead 36-34.
“A team as good as West can beat you in just three minutes, and it happened,” East coach Danielle Porter said. “Without Karleigh, we don’t have anyone who can guard Shay, and she was just scoring at will.”
Dixon and Hall also were huge in the comeback with their defensive pressure on East’s guards. East committed 30 turnovers, and Steele seemed to be finishing a fastbreak off a turnover every few seconds in the third quarter.
“We came out the second half and acted like it was 0-0,” Hall said. “Nycieko really picked up her defense, and Coach took a ‘T’ for us.”
McNeely got a technical — he wanted it — when things looked bleakest for the Falcons.
“It was a strategic ‘T,’ ” he explained. “It worked. A lot of the girls on these two teams are friends, and sometimes they lay back a little bit, but I felt like East was playing hard, and we weren’t. After the technical, the light switch came on, and we took this game back.”
Wike had nine points, 13 rebounds and six blocks, while Fisher had 20 points and 17 rebounds, but East couldn’t finish off the Falcons.
“When things got pressure-ated, we just didn’t handle it very well,” Porter said.
WEST ROWAN (55) — Steele 34, Hall 10, Dixon 7, Sobataka 2, Q. Miller 2, S. Miller, James .
EAST ROWAN (47) — Fisher 20, Wike 9, Ajayi 8, Poole 7, Thomas 3, Lowe, Sides.

W. Rowan 7 2 27 19 — 55
E. Rowan 10 10 14 13 — 47