East Rowan girls top South Rowan, 43-31

Published 12:27 am Wednesday, November 28, 2018

By David Shaw


LANDIS — Once upon a time, a 2-0 start represented Never-Neverland for the East Rowan girls basketball team.

But here it is late-November and head coach Kevin Holland isn’t ashamed of the Mustangs’s won-lost record.

“It has been a long time since we felt this good,” he said Tuesday night at South Rowan, where East rallied for a 43-31 non-league victory. “It feels good but I’m still really cautious. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. I don’t want to go all coach-speak and say, ‘One day at a time,’ but I don’t want to think too far ahead.”

Fair enough. But give East its propers after it limited South (0-1) to just 15 points after the first quarter and a grand total of 11 field goals.

“We did some good things and competed in spurts,” said first-year South coach Stacy Ellis. “But we second-guessed ourselves too much, missed a couple of layups and got down on ourselves. And East, they were ready. They were prepared. We just didn’t have enough energy to keep up with them.”

East received 10 first-half points from freshman Mary Spry, a 5-foot-10 post player, and surged to a 25-19 lead at the break. Teammate Grace Eagle, a junior who contributed 10 points off the bench, initiated a comeback of sorts when her 3-pointer from the right corner trimmed South’s first-quarter lead to 13-10.

“I set my feet, got my hands right and just shot it,” said Eagle, who knocked down four long balls in last week’s season-opening win against Central Davidson. “It gave us a little spark. We used it boost our confidence.”

East still trailed 19-14 after South senior Janiya Downs canned a 3-ball from the left side with 7:07 remaining in the second quarter. The Mustangs responded with an 11-0 spree to close the first half and held the Raiders without a basket for nearly 16 minutes. By the time Downs — a 5-11 post-player who gets more touches than anybody — ended the drought with a fourth-period layup, East led by 10.

“There’s not really much to like about this game,” Downs shrugged after pacing all scorers with 20 points. “I don’t think we were prepared for what we were getting into. Sixteen minutes without a field goal — that’s terrible. We started rushing stuff. Our shots against their zone defense weren’t falling.”

Ellis praised Downs for her effort, but added: “We were one-shot wonders. There were no second chances.”

Afterward, Holland lauded East’s defensive display — and Spry’s in particular.

“We focused on trying to keep Janiya from the basket,” he said. “If you let her get close, you’re done. There’s nothing you can do with that. Mary did well with her, but she’s still trying to feel her way through from eighth grade to varsity. She’s trying real hard to fit in, be a team player and find her game.”

EAST ROWAN (43) — Spry 10, Eagle 10, Houpe 7, Mitchell 6, Harrison 4, Honeycutt 3, Winford 3, Miller, Peeler, Fleming, Fraley, Ali.

SOUTH ROWAN (31) — Downs 20, McGuire 9, Shell 2, Moore, P. Chabala, Rymer, Rollins, A. Chabala, Butler.

East Rowan           14    11    8    10 — 43

South Rowan        16     3     4    8 — 31