East girls game
KANNAPOLIS — East Rowan’s girls basketball team is now unbeaten in eight games, but getting there wasn’t easy.
The Mustangs suffered 28 turnovers and trailed for the first three minutes in Tuesday’s 72-55 triumph at Northwest Cabarrus. But they responded nicely and were rewarded with a seat atop the conference standings.
“We talked about that a lot before the game,” coach Danielle Porter said after East (5-0 SPC) shot 59 percent (26-for-44) from the field. “It’s a game of ebb-and-flow and you can’t get comfortable at any point. If we would have sat back and thought we had it won, we very well could be sitting with an ‘L’ right now.”
That’s not the case, thanks largely to 6-foot-3 forward Kelli Fisher. The junior shot 9-for-11 from the floor, scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Teammate Karleigh Wike — the 6-4 senior — made all six of her field goal attempts and finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds.
“We were finishing today,” East point guard Jocelyn Lowe said after contributing 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. “Kelli’s really fast in transition and it’s easy to get the ball to her. One of my favorite plays is to just lob the ball up to the big girls.”
After falling behind 6-0 early, East caught fire and reeled off 18 unanswered points. Fisher scored 10 of them, the last two on a short set shot from the right baseline with 22 seconds left in the opening period.
“I don’t know who can do anything against that much size,” losing coach Anthony Bethea said after Northwest (3-4, 1-3) was topped.
Porter called Fisher, “a force inside,” and added: “She’s become very consistent offensively. We know if we get the ball in her hands she is going to produce. She hasn’t always been this steady, but it’s a new year for her. Her percentage is over 50 percent from the floor.”
East led by as many as 22 points in the third quarter before Northwest rallied within 58-46 with 5:31 to play. The Mustangs offered a convincing closing argument, beginning with another Fisher layup and finishing with Lowe’s runaway bucket as time expired.
“It just shows we have to work for everything,” Fisher said. “When you stop working, that’s when you get beat.”
EAST (72) — Fisher 25, Wike 15, Lowe 14, Shenell Phar 10, Ajayi 3, Shenique Pharr 3, Benge 2, Drew, Lambert.
NW CABARRUS (55) — Bennett 24, Smith 13, Bost 12, Lamburt 4, Grant 2.
E. Rowan 18 22 17 15 — 72
NW Cabarrus 9 12 16 18 — 55
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