Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 11, 2014
LANDIS — South Rowan’s tiny point guard Sylvetta Bost shot 2 feet short and 3 feet wide on some late free throws, but coach Jarrod Smith only smiled.
He knew she was spent.
“Her legs are just gone,” Smith said. “She’s put everything she’s got into this.”
Bost, Cassidy Chipman, Lynsey Corriher, Beth Ann Martin and Kayla McLendon and the girls who came off the bench to give them a breather all put hearts and souls into Friday’s SPC game until there was nothing left to give. The Raiders, minus two starters, played close to a perfect 32 minutes and clobbered visiting East Rowan 61-44.
It was the first SPC loss for the Mustangs (10-3, 6-1), and their third straight setback overall.
Chipman was phenomenal, making one floater after another, and while her teammates played like demons in terms of effort, she carried the scoring.
She had 32 points, 16 in each half. That was one short of her career high and the most she’s scored in a league or conference game. She lit it up — 9-for-15 on 2s, 2-for-2 on 3s, 8-for-10 at the foul line.
“I’m not usually emotional, but I got excited at the end like everyone did,” Chipman said. “It was the happiest I’ve ever been in my life to win a basketball game. Every game we’ve played we’ve learned something. We’ve been building for a game like this.”
It was as good a win as Smith has had in his five seasons as South’s coach.
“I’ve never been prouder of an effort that my team put forth,” he said. “Chipman had a great game, and everyone battled as hard as they could — defensively and on the boards.”
East’s enormous size advantage was diminished when 6-foot-4 Karleigh Wike, who was not injured, sat out the first half.
“We’re just going through some stuff right now,” East coach Danielle Porter said. “Give all the credit to South. They played lights-out and we couldn’t stop Chipman. She’s as tough as any matchup in the county for us.”
East got four 3-pointers and 14 points from Lauren Thomas. Kelli Fisher had 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Amani Ajayi scored 10 points and had four assists.
Bost scored 11 for South (7-7, 4-3), while Lynsey Corriher had eight points and six rebounds.
Ajayi started strong, but two early 3-pointers by Corriher helped South keep pace. Chipman hit a 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter for a 19-18 SR lead.
Chipman had nine in the second quarter, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for a 33-25 halftime lead.
Smith’s message was simple at halftime. There were two possible stories that would be written: that South had played hard but couldn’t hang on — or that South had fought for 32 minutes and won. The Raiders chose the latter option.
“There’s a very big difference between playing a great half and playing a great game,” Smith said. “But then Karleigh comes in to start the second half, and we don’t stop attacking. As a team we knew we had to outrebound the two tall girls (Wike and Fisher), and we were able to do that.”
When Martin passed to McLendon for a layup late in the third quarter, South led 47-35, and it was just a matter of making some free throws down the stretch.
“Turnovers killed us,” Porter said. “And I had believed we were past that.”
Chipman made eight free throws in the final quarter, while Bost hit four before exhaustion set in.
“We knew we could win if we didn’t go out there scared and we worked so hard in practice to do this,” Martin said. “East has those tall girls, but we just played them like they were the same size as us.”
EAST ROWAN (44) — Fisher 14, Thomas 14, Ajayi 10, Wike 2, Shenique Pharr 2, Shenell Pharr 2, Lowe, Benge, McCree, Drew.
SOUTH ROWAN (61) — Chipman 32, Bost 11, Corriher 8, Martin 4, McLendon 4, Stamey 2, Figueroa, Smith.
E. Rowan 18 7 10 9 — 44
S. Rowan 19 14 14 14 — 61