Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 11, 2014

HARRISBURG — West Rowan’s girls were put in their place Friday night — sixth place.
The Falcons let an early lead evaporate and spent much of their 71-56 SPC loss at Hickory Ridge swimming against the current.
“Our inexperience cost us a little bit,” first-year coach Ashley Poole said after West (5-10, 3-5) had its modest two-game winning streak snapped. “We let the tempo of the game get the best of us. And if you look at our games, every time we’ve fallen behind in the first half we’ve failed to come back. We’re not good at that.”
They were good enough to take a 5-0 lead in the first 90 seconds, courtesy of Shanise Miller’s opening-salvo 3-pointer and Khaila Hall’s authoritative layup. Then late in the first period Taylor Martin drained a 3-ball and Miller connected on a 10-foot set shot, providing a 12-7 West advantage.
“I didn’t like the first quarter,” HR coach Tolanda Simmons said after the Ragin’ Bulls (8-5, 6-2) recovered and won handily. “We just played down, but we came back and ran our fastbreak like we know how to run it. And inside, I think we have some of the best post players in the conference.”
Now West knows it as well. It had no answer for Hickory Ridge’s 5-foot-10 senior Kenya Jones (13 points, 22 rebounds) and six-foot freshman Zharia Brown (14 points, 14 rebounds).
“They came out strong,” WR sophomore Khaila Hall said after netting a game-best 22 points. “We didn’t know what we were up against. We didn’t play our best, but they had something we weren’t expecting.”
It was a sea of arms and legs that smothered the Falcons in the second quarter. HR used a 14-0 tear to grab a 21-12 lead with five minutes remaining in the half. Hall’s 3-pointer and Miller’s stickback were West’s only field goals in the period.
“We hustled the whole game but rebounds and fouls hurt us,” said Taylor Martin, West’s five-foot sophomore. “They were boxing us out and getting a lot of putbacks and second and third shots.”
West was down 34-21 by halftime and trailed by as many as 17 points late in the third quarter.
“We weathered the storm in the first quarter,” Simmons said. “Last year we probably wouldn’t have done that.”
Poole indicated the Falcons need to boost their effort in the second half of the season. “We got lazy,” she said. “We got away from what we do. You can’t have that.”
WEST ROWAN (56) — Hall 22, Martin 16, S.Miller 9, Lovell 3, Q.Miller 3, Cowan 3, Goddard, Alessandrini, Greene.
HICKORY RIDGE (71) — Means 14, Davis 14, Brown 14, Jones 13, Ratliff 5, McMarimen 4, Evans 3, Rowden 2, Miller 2.
W. Rowan 12 9 20 15 — 56
Hky. Ridge 11 23 23 14 — 71