Steele not ‘tall, that’s all’
Prep girls basketball notebook …
SALISBURY — North Rowan girls coach Brian Lytton recalls that his father, Jack, who coached West Rowan’s boys from 1982-1990, had a pet phrase to describe players who had height but lacked skill — “tall, that’s all.”
“Shay Steele is not tall, that’s all,” Brian continued glumly.
West’s 6-foot-2 senior Steele usually is out-sprinting everyone on the court. She was Christmas tournament MVP, and the lefty picked up where she left off when West rallied to beat East Rowan 55-47 Friday in its first action since the tournament. Steele scored 25 of her 34 points in the second half as the Falcons stormed back from 16 points down to keep their perfect season going.
Steele, who has signed with Morehead State, has averaged 29.0 points in West’s three league games. She had 38 against Statesville, four short of the school record of 42 set by Ayana Avery.
Steele has scored 1,290 career points, sixth all-time at West. Ahead of her are Kari Schenk (1,446), Andrea Grissett (1,539), Wendy Hampton (1,764), Hillary Hampton (1,814) and Avery (1,995).
West hasn’t won the NPC regular season or tournament since 2006 and still has to prove it can get it done against Carson and North Iredell, but the Falcons certainly have a chance for a huge season if key players stay healthy.
With each win, West (13-0, 3-0) improves on the best start in school history. West is halfway to the school record for victories. The 1992-93 team led by Wendy Hampton and Grissett went 26-4.
About the road comeback against East, West’s second-year coach Todd McNeely had this to say: “It’s definitely a game we would’ve lost last year, but this team has matured a whole lot.”
West is home tonight against Salisbury.
HORNETS: The CCC girls look strong this season, with Thomasville, East Davidson, Central Davidson and Lexington all posting impressive victories in the non-conference portion of the season. Central Davidson owns a win against Carson, while Lexington won against Davie.
It’s going to be a challenge for Salisbury (7-5, 1-0), which already has had streaks in the county and the Christmas tournament ended, to continue its dominance in the CCC.
Salisbury has at least shared the CCC regular-season championship eight times in the last nine seasons, with the exception coming when East Davidson won in 2009. Salisbury lost three times to East Davidson that season but finally beat the Golden Eagles in the regional and went on to win the 2A state title.
Salisbury’s girls have won at least 25 games nine straight seasons, a remarkable run.
Junior Brielle Blaire has carried the Hornets offensively with 23.7 points per game. The team averages 53.4. Blaire has scored at least 20 points in 10 of Salisbury’s 12 outings and has scored 20-plus seven games in a row.
Blaire has scored 1,262 points in her career. She’s already sixth on the school’s all-time list, with Shi-Heria Shipp (1,274), Bubbles Phifer (1,361), Sherree Gillespie (1,398), Donna Carr (1,659) and Shayla Fields (2,783) still in front of her.
Fields’ mark is the county record (for boys and girls) and included an unbelievable 835 points her senior year.
MUSTANGS: East’s girls lost a huge lead against West Rowan, but they gave a much better performance than they did when they were wiped out 69-33 by Carson in their first key NPC matchup of the season.
“We competed a lot better than the Carson game,” East junior Karleigh Wike said. “It’s something we can build on.”
Wike is averaging 13.9 points per game and has 656 for her career. She’s now 25th on East’s all-time scoring list. Kathy Sapp (675) and Khara Bost (688) are the next ones she’ll pass.
East (9-5, 1-2) appears to be headed to the playoffs for the third straight season, but whether it can finish higher than fourth in the NPC remains to be seen, East has a very big game at contender North Iredell tonight.
RAIDERS: When South Rowan’s girls go to Carson tonight they’ll be trying to end an eight-game losing streak to the Cougars that includes a 51-25 loss in the recent Christmas tournament.
South (3-10, 0-3) started 2-2 but is 1-8 since losing junior Lynsey Corriher to a season-ending knee injury. Corriher had ACL surgery right after Christmas.
Sophomore Avery Locklear has scored 20-plus point five times for the Raiders, while sophomore Cassidy Chipman has scored at least 20 three times.
Locklear is averaging 19.2 points per game and has 668 for her career. She’s already 18th on South’s all-time scoring list.
COUGARS: Carson’s girls (11-3, 2-0) feature seniors Kelly Dulkoski and Allison Blackwell, the top two scorers in school history. They’re giving the Cougars 40 points per game, but coach Brooke Misenheimer needs a third option to emerge if the Cougars are going to enjoy their second straight 20-win season.
Kate Cole, who hit four 3-pointers in the Christmas tournament, is a possibility. Alex Allen, who had a season-high 11 points in Friday’s win against Statesville, also could become more of a factor offensively.
Dulkoski has scored 289 points this season and is on track to smash the school record of 439 that she scored as a junior.
CAVALIERS: North’s girls winning 43-37 at home against Chatham Central may not sound like a big deal, but the fact that they were able to win without leading scorer Special Washington, who had carried them earlier in the week, made it a significant victory.
North (5-5, 5-1) is headed for its best season in years. The Cavaliers have finished fifth, fifth and tied for sixth in their three seasons in the YVC and they finished seventh in their last two seasons in the CCC prior to moving down to 1A.
At the very least, North appears a lock for double-digit victories. North hasn’t done that since 2007.
BOYS: Michael Connor’s knee injury suffered in the Christmas tournament is a blow to North Rowan, although the Cavs are better equipped to handle such a loss than anyone else in the county. Look for Jalen Sanders and T.J. Bates to pick up their scoring with Connor sidelined. North (10-3, 6-0) is at improved South Stanly tonight. North has won 50 of its 54 YVC regular-season games. … West’s Celexus Long went scoreless three times this season, but he’s poured in 59 in his last three outings, West (3-10, 2-1 NPC) went into the season looking short and offensive challenged. The Falcons still are short, but with the addition of Devin Parks and the emergence of Long, they can put 70 on the scoreboard. If Seth Martin gets hot, look out. .. The most pleasant surprise among Rowans boys teams has been South (8-6, 2-1). Soph Qwan Rhyne has scored in double figures 10 times. Senior Josh Medlin scored his 700th career point in Friday’s win against North Iredell. He’s only the 13th Raider to reach that milestone. … Carson junior Tre Williams tied Nick Houston’s school record with 37 points in Friday’s overtime loss at NPC favorite Statesville. Houston scored his 37 in a 2011 loss at West Iredell. Darius Moose scored the most in a Carson win. He had 36 against Northwest Cabarrus in 2009. Williams has 577 career points to rank fifth in Carson history. Junior Colton Laws (538) also is on a 1,000-points pace. … East Rowan’s Donte Means scored a career-high 26 in Friday’s 51-50 loss to West Rowan. Means’ previous best was 22 in a two-point loss to A.L. Brown. A win at North Iredell tonight would be a huge boost for East’s (4-9, 1-2) playoff chances. … Salisbury (4-8), which has lost five of its last six, is at West Rowan tonight. The Hornets won 63-46 against the Falcons at home. Freshman Wes Fazia has averaged 11.7 points in his last three outings.