Moir Christmas Classic: West girls rout South for 3rd place

Published 10:18 pm Saturday, December 29, 2018

By Marny Hendrick

SALISBURY — This time, the West Rowan girls made sure they were operating the buzz-saw.

The Falcons jumped out on South Rowan, 19-5, in the first quarter and never looked back, posting a lopsided, 73-34 thrashing of the Raiders, claiming third place in the Dale’s/Sam Moir Christmas Classic on  Saturday evening.

Just 24 hours earlier, the Falcons (11-1) suffered their only loss this season in the  semifinals, when Salisbury pounced early, 22-7, and won easily, 66-51.

“They (Salisbury) came out and smacked us in the face last night,” said West coach Ashley Poole, “so we had to make sure we did that today against South. I am happy with the way we played today.”

Three-point baskets by Mary Sobataka and Taylor Poole, plus inside buckets by power forward Abigail Wilson, sparked the hot start for West. The margin was 32-18 at the half then ballooned to an insurmountable 54-30, after three quarters.

An 18-1 run in the fourth period put the lead at 72-31 with 3:30 left and brought on the running clock to close it out.

“We knew we had to come in and prove a point that last night was not going to define our season,” said Sobataka. “Now we will go on from here into conference play.”

Sobataka led the offensive onslaught for the Falcons with 24 points, 21 in the second half and a total of five 3-pointers. Wilson added 20 more points down low, followed by Poole with 12 (three 3-pointers) and forward Whitley Arnott with 10.

An obvious focus of the West defense was star Raiders’ wing Janiya Downs, a Catawba College signee. Downs was held to 11 points in the first half, but closed the game with 28 points to lead South (5-5). In the process, Downs became the all-time total points leader for South Rowan, surpassing Avery Locklear’s previous record of 1,795.

Down caught and passed Locklear with 5:41 in the third quarter on a layup, bringing the game to a brief halt so players from both teams could congratulate her. The record now stands at 1,809 and counting with a 2,000-point career well within reach.

“It means a lot to me to come in for four years after Avery and break her record,” Downs said. “It is phenomenal and I don’t see anyone coming along behind me that can break it anytime soon.”

As for the tough loss to West, Downs said the girls’ division in the Christmas tournament was extremely talented. “We are growing as a team,” she said, “but we knew there were some very competitive teams in it. So we just gave it our all, win or lose.”

Following Downs in scoring for South were freshman Bethany Rymer with nine points and Jahleah Butler with two. Those three were the only players to score for the Raiders. Downs finished the three games of the tournament with 92 total points, including 37 in the opening win over East Rowan on Thursday.

“West came out and put us in a big hole right off the bat,” said Raiders’ head coach Stacy Ellis. “They were very aggressive and did a lot right, so kudos to them. We will continue to work hard and get better.”

SOUTH ROWAN (39) — Downs 28, Rymer 9, Butler 2, Chabala, Littlejohn, McGuire, Harrington, Shell, Faw.

WEST ROWAN (73) — Sobataka 24, Wilson 20, Poole 12, Arnott 10, Connolly 5, Blabon 2, Robbins, Spicer, Hoffner, Haggas, Pharr.

South Rowan      5    13    12     9 — 39

West Rowan     19    13    22    19 — 73