SALISBURY — North Rowan senior Nycieko Dixon was at a loss for words following the Cavaliers’ dominating performance in the championship game of the Sam Moir Christmas Classic Saturday night.
“Thank God, thank God, thank God,” she repeated, while clutching her MVP trophy.
She kissed the trophy and held it against her face, saying, “I’m just very, very thankful.”
Dixon capped North’s convincing run to the Moir championship with an 18-point performance in the Cavs’ 71-40 rout of previously unbeaten East Rowan Saturday to garner the top individual honor.
“It means a lot because I’m a senior,” she continued. “I’ve been playing for four years. This is my last time and what better time to get the MVP trophy than your senior year?”
Dixon, who added three steals, three assists and three rebounds to her team-high 18 points, was one of four Cavs who finished in double figures.
Brielle Blaire added 17 points, 10 boards and six steals, while Demeria Robinson finished with 11 points, seven assists and four steals to earn all-tournament nominations.
Ashley Blaire tacked on 14 points, five steals and six boards.
“That was a big win for us,” North head coach Brian Lytton explained. “East Rowan is a very fine team, but we were just able to get the game up-tempo, which is what we wanted.
“We just have so many girls that can score,” he continued. “They do a great job of sharing the ball and moving it around and getting each other open shots. When we do that, we’re going to have four or maybe five in double figures on any given night.”
It took a little over a quarter for the Cavaliers to get out running, but once they did, they were unstoppable. North used a 13-4 run in the middle of the second quarter to grab a 25-12 advantage.
The Cavs took a 27-18 lead into the break behind 13 first-half points from Brielle Blaire.
North continued to run in the third where Dixon took over and sealed her case for MVP.
The senior scored 10 straight Cavalier points to open the second half, saluting the crowd after an emphatic corner trey that pushed the lead out to 37-20.
“Nycieko is just an excellent shooter,” Lytton said. “When you have a player who actually shoots better in games than she does in practice, she really responds to being on stage. Some players run and hide from the limelight, but she really shines in big moments.
“It’s really nice to have someone who can perform under that kind of pressure.”
North shot 62 percent from the floor in the second half, pouring in 28 points in the fourth quarter to seal the runaway victory.
“We had the lead, so we were able to use that lead to make them come out and guard us,” Lytton added. “Once they had to come out and guard us, we were able to get some easy baskets. I thought we did a good job of executing until we got what we wanted.”
The loss snapped a 10-game win streak for East to open the season. But head coach Danielle Porter insisted the defeat would not define the Mustangs’ season.
“I just told them during the ceremony that this loss was not going to define our season by any means,” she explained. “We’re just going to go back to doing what we do, tighten up in some areas and carry on in our conference.
“At the end of the day, this does not affect our conference or our postseason,” Porter continued. “I’d rather lose tonight and go further in the postseason than vice versa.
“We’re going to get keep working – that’s what we do.”
Karleigh Wike (nine points, 16 rebounds, three blocks) and Kelli Fisher (nine points, eight rebounds) earned all-tournement nods for the Mustangs. Jocelyn Lowe won the first “Ronz Award,” a honor that defines character and sportsmanship.
North Rowan hoisted the Moir championship trophy for the first time since 2002, but Lytton is convinced it will not be the only championship the Cavs will win this season.
“It means a lot. It’s been a long time since North has won the championship. It really means a lot to the team and to the school,” he explained. “But it should be the first of many championships to come with this team because we really have a good team this year.
“Winning gives us confidence,” Lytton added. “Everybody is feeling good about something that we accomplished together.”
EAST ROWAN (40) — Wike 9, Fisher 9, Shenique Pharr 7, Thomas 6, Shenell Pharr 4, Ajayi 3, Lowe 2.
NORTH ROWAN (71) — Dixon 18, B. Blaire 17, A. Blaire 14, Robinson 11, Washington 5, White 2, Farmer 2, Lingle 2, Russell, Mills, Lytton.
E. Rowan 8 10 8 14 — 40
N. Rowan 12 15 16 28 — 71
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