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South Rowan girls upset at home by West Davidson

By Marny Hendrick
sports@salisburypost.com

LANDIS — As far as the West Davidson girls basketball team is concerned, there is “no tomorrow” for the remainder of this season.

That “survive and advance” attitude paid off in a big way for the Green Dragons Monday night as they held off favored South Rowan, 63-56, to win the opener of the Central Carolina Conference Tournament. Sophomore forward Haley Lowe posted a  career-high 29 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Dragons (14-10) into Wednesday’s CCC semifinals at Ledford against top seed East Davidson.

The fact that No. 5 seed West Davidson won at fourth-seeded South (17-8) was a mild upset, but the fact that the Raiders had dominated two previous meetings this season by 27 and 20 points made the outcome a monumental surprise.

“This is like the first round of the playoffs for us,” said West Davidson head coach Jamie Payne. “My girls just decided before the game that from here on out, if we lose, we are done. So they decided to show up tonight. We didn’t fold like we normally have against South Rowan this season. The girls just refused to give in this time.”

Despite trailing by as many as nine points early in the second half, South roared back behind super junior Janiya Downs (28 points), actually taking the lead at 43-41 with 1:20 left in the third period. The Raiders then tied the game twice in the fourth period, the last time at 52-52 with 3:42 left. But instead of wilting, the Dragons kept feeding the ball down low to Lowe and 6-0 center Mary Nebrich, building the margin back to 61-54 with just over a minute left.

“They really got us inside  and once they missed they got the key rebounds to keep it alive,” noted Raiders’ head coach John Davis. “It is a learning process for our young team. We have got to learn that in critical points in the game, you have to get the best shot possible. At times, we rushed our shots and that hurt.”

What also hurt South was significant foul trouble throughout the game. Junior post player Whitley Arnott was saddled with four in the first quarter alone, although she never did foul out. But speedy guard Tazah Hardin did foul out, as did senior guard Riley Corriher. The Raiders ended up with 20 fouls, while West Davidson committed 15. But the Dragons went 15-for-24 at the line, compared to 8-of-13 for South.

The Dragons also enjoyed a rebounding edge 30-27, especially in the fourth period, when it counted most.

Lowe, a 5-10 sophomore, came into the game averaging 10.6 points per game for the Dragons but made an immediate impact with four 3-pointers and 18 points in the first half. Nebrich dumped in 17 more down low, while sophomore Sarah Rabon scored 10 points.

Downs put the Raiders on her back in the second half with 18 of her 28 points, including 11 in the fourth period, but it was not enough. Hardin was the only other South player in double figures with 10. Corriher scored nine points.

South, winners of eight in a row coming into the game, is assured of a state 2A playoff spot when pairings are released this Saturday. “We’ll just look at film tomorrow and see what we did wrong,” Davis said. “Then, we’ll go out on the court and get some shots up. We will start getting ready for whoever we are paired with next week.”

NOTE: Downs came into the game last night needing 17 points to surpass the 500-point season mark for the second time in her career. The defending Rowan County girls Player of the Year now has 1,471 for her three-year varsity career. Downs, a 5-10 guard, is one of only three players in South Rowan history to score more than 500 in a season.

WEST DAVIDSON (63) — Lowe 29, Nebrich 17, Rabon 10, Clontz 5, Conrad 2, Sharpe.

SOUTH ROWAN (56) — Downs 28, Hardin 10, Corriher 9, McGuire 6, Rollins 2, Arnott 1, Shell.

West Davidson     21    14    13    15 — 63

South Rowan        15    13    15    13 — 56

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