SALISBURY — It’s a month before Christmas but already West Rowan girls coach Ashley Poole is making a list and checking it twice.
The first-year mentor liked nearly everything she saw in Tuesday’s 62-58 win at Salisbury.
“It was extremely exhausting,” Poole said moments after the Falcons squared their record at 1-1. “We finished tonight — and that’s something we had a hard time doing (Monday) night. We made some big plays in the fourth quarter.”
They had to. Salisbury (1-1) seemingly had the game won but collaped in final three-and-a-half minutes.
“That’s exactly right,” said SHS coach Lakai Brice. “When we needed it most, our effort was not there. There were a lot of loose balls, a lot of available rebounds that we did not get.”
West found itself down 46-41 after Salisbury’s Monifa Angle threaded a three-pointer from the top of the key with 6:56 remaining. And when Sierra Charles converted a pair of free throws with 3:33 on the clock, the Hornets was up 54-48.
“They made us play harder,” said WR senior Quanice Miller. “We’re not as good as we were last year, so we had to do something.”
What the Falcons did was start looking for their shortest player, sophomore Taylor Martin. She caught fire when it most mattered, grabbing an offensive rebound and sinking a layup with 4:45 to go, then scoring on a jailbreak layup to trim West’s deficit to 49-49 just 15 seconds later.
“I think those plays showed we weren’t gonna give up,” Martin said after finishing with 17 points. “We wanted this game and we fought for it.”
So did the Hornets. Breya Philpot’s layup gave SHS a three-point edge and free throws by Nyasia Harris and Charles extended it to six. Then Martin struck again.
With an exciting display of long-range sharpshooting, the five-foot guard brought the Falcons all the way back. First she knocked down a 3-pointer from the left side that drew West within 54-51 with 3:22 to play. One possession later she duplicated the trick, nailing another 3-ball from the same area to tie the score.
“Those were devastating,” said Brice. “She wasn’t being ignored. We just didn’t come out and guard her.”
Poole, for one, wasn’t surprised. “(Martin) has the ability to take over a game like that,” she said. “She’s a very unselfish player but we’ve asked her to be more aggressive. She likes to pass a lot, but this team lost its top three scorers from last year. Somebody’s got to step up and provide some offense. Tonight it was Taylor.”
Martin, who scored 10 points in Monday’s season-opening loss to Davie County, matched that total in the fourth quarter alone — all before fouling out with 2:20 to go.
“I was really nervous before I took those shots,” she said with a post-game smile. “But I was so wide open I took the chance. Once I took them, honestly, I thought they looked pretty good.”
WEST ROWAN (62) — Martin 17, Q.Miller 17, Hall 14, Yow 6, S.Miller 3, Alesandrini 3, Cowan 2, Edwards, Lovell, McNeely, Freeze.
SALISBURY (58) — Philpot 16, Harris 11, Alexander 10, Charles 9, Angle 6, Anderson 4, Hightower 2, Wolfe.
W.Rowan 17 8 16 21 — 62
Salisbury 9 18 12 19 — 58
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