Prep Basketball: South girls win again

Published 12:18 am Friday, February 12, 2016

By Mike London

GRANITE QUARRY — South Rowan girls basketball coach John Davis is seeing his team play so well now that he doesn’t want the season to end.
While South (7-17, 6-12) fell short of qualifying to play in the South Piedmont Conference tournament, Davis is still clinging to hope that the Raiders will get a wild-card berth in the 3A state playoffs.
“These girls have made an old coach love the game again,” Davis said. “The’ve worked their butts off. We’re young, but we’re starting to play pretty well.”
South has won four of its last five, so it’s probably the best ninth-place team in history. The Raiders stayed on a roll Thursday by beating East Rowan, 66-57, in Granite Quarry.
“You win on East’s senior night and you’ve done something,” Davis said. “Shenell Pharr is a tremendous player, and that’s a very tough team.”
Pharr, a senior, scored 23, mostly on transition run-outs. East (12-12, 7-11) also got a career game from senior Shelby Lowe, who scored 10. Lowe was a reserve most of the season but she moved into the starting lineup with Shenique Pharr, Shenell’s twin, sidelined by a concussion.
“Shelby played a great game, we couldn’t have asked for any more from her,” East coach Danielle Porter said. “We’ve always known she was capable of games like that, but it’s harder to do it when the lights are on than it is in practice. Tonight she played with great confidence. I’m very happy for her to have that moment.”
Jocelyn Lowe, Shelby’s sister, also scored 10 for the Mustangs.
South got 25 points from talented freshman Janiya Downs. She produced 20 of them in the second half.
“She’s got every skill set,” Porter said. “To be as young as she is, she’s just an incredible player. We tried to stop her a lot of different ways, but if you take away the drive, she starts making 3s.”
Senior Malaysia Williams had a monster game for South, pouring in 18 points on a combination of 3-pointers and power layups and clearing the defensive board. Taziah Hardin scored 12 before fouling out.
South started fast, but East got eight breakaway points in the second quarter from Pharr and took a 31-27 halftime lead.
With starters Caitlin Chabala and Hardin mired in deep foul trouble, Downs needed to take over in the third quarter — and she did. She had 12 in the quarter and drove for the two points that tied the game at 46-all entering the final period.
With South down 48-46, sophomore Riley Corriher came through with back-to-back buckets for the Raiders, scoring on a hard-nosed drive and a jumper.
When Hardin, a sophomore who has tremendous quickness, scored, South had a four-point lead. Williams knocked down two free throws with five minutes left to put the Raiders ahead by five.
With South trying to melt the clock and East scrambling defensively, Downs made the critical play, weaving down the lane to bank in a dagger for a six-point lead with 1:22 remaining.
Rhiannon Kimmer, Carsen Carlton and Downs made clutch free throws down the stretch, and the Raiders celebrated another victory.
“John has done such a great job with that team,” Porter said. “They’ve improved tremendously. He’s going to be really good for South Rowan girls basketball.”
Downs topped 20 points for the 10th time in her freshman season.
“We got a lot better in the second half of the season,” Downs said. “We started knowing each other better and we started working together better. We shared the ball and we got a lot more aggressive. Right now, we believe we’re a good team.”

SOUTH ROWAN (66) — Downs 25, Williams 18, Hardin 12, Corriher 7, Carsen Carlton 2, Kimmer 1, Chabala 1, Camden Carlton, Samples, Rollins.
EAST ROWAN (57) — Shenell Pharr 23, S. Lowe 10, J. Lowe 10, Weisensel 7, Small 5, Wagner 2, Harrison.

South Rowan 15 12 19 20 — 66
East Rowan 14 17 15 11 — 57