MOUNT ULLA — East Rowan’s girls basketball team knew it was beaten when it walked off the court Friday night. Too bad it was only halftime.
“It was just a matter of them applying pressure and us blinking under pressure,” coach Danielle Porter said after the Mustangs were routed 52-35 by host West Rowan. “Again we had all these unwarranted turnovers. When you play a good team you can’t give away the ball like that.”
And West Rowan is more than a good team. The Falcons (18-1, 7-1 NPC) captured their third consecutive victory and may have vented some of the frustration that lingered from their unsightly win at East on Jan. 4.
“This was much better than the last game,” junior Quanice Miller said after WR raced to a 32-15 halftime lead. “We couldn’t let that happen again.”
Winning coach Todd McNeely may have seen it coming. “This was our third game this week,” he said. “And the totals may not show it, but this was our most complete game. We took our time and executed well. After that first quarter we got our legs back and played our game.”
Their game was feeding the ball to senior Shay Steele (16 points) for across-the-lane attacks and lefty layups. She netted nine points in the decisive second quarter, when West outscored the Mustangs 20-6.
“We came out strong today,” said freshman teammate Khaila Hall. “Coach told us not to stress, not to play the game too fast and just slide into it.”
That wasn’t a problem. East, however, never established its inside game and offered little resistance. Big girls Karleigh Wike and Kelli Fisher were limited to four points apiece and were non-factors.
“Last time Kelli had 20 points and 15 rebounds against us,” McNeely said. “We practiced fronting and double-teaming and helping on the back side. Tonight we didn’t have to worry too much because Quanice, who gives away about a foot to Kelli, just fought her tooth and nail for everything.”
Wike was held to single digits for only the third time this winter. “We have a cross screen to counter pressure down low,” Porter explained. “We work on it constantly. We talked about it today before the game. And we didn’t use it one time.”
East (12-8, 4-5) was still within 14-11 when Wike scored the first of her two first-half baskets early in the second quarter. But West took control of the evening with a 9-0 run sparked by Dixon’s 3-pointer and a couple of baseline layups from Miller.
Fisher, meanwhile went two quarters between baskets in a quiet display.
“I had to stay in front of her, get strong and get big,” Miller said. “She’s not only big but strong. And she can move you around.”
McNeely warned his team at halftime about having a third-period letdown. “That’s what happened against North Iredell,” he said. “We had a 10-point lead at halftime and gave it away.”
This time the Falcons came out and hit a couple of threes — one by Dixon in the opening minute and another by reserve Niakey James that provided a 44-20 lead.
NOTES: East’s Jocelyn Lowe and Sydney Poole suffered first-quarter injuries but returned later. … Junior Lauren Thomas led the Mustangs with seven points, all in the first half. … West guard Alison Sobataka celebrated her 18th birthday on Friday.
EAST ROWAN (35) — Thomas 7, Lowe 6, Poole 5, Gullett 5, Ajayi 4, Wike 4, Fisher 4, Sides, Fry.
WEST ROWAN (52) — Steele 16, Dixon 14, Q.Miller 8, Hall 6, S.Miller 5, James 3, Sobataka, Freeze, Cress, Edwards, Gibson.
E. Rowan 9 6 7 13 — 35
W. Rowan 12 20 14 6 — 52