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High school basketball: Salisbury girls win 15th in a row

By Mike London

mike.london@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Salisbury’s girls basketball team doesn’t allow much, and for a long time in Monday’s first-round game in the Central Carolina Conference Tournament, it looked like the Hornets might not give up anything.

Top-seeded Salisbury led 16-0 before eighth-seeded South Rowan got on the board. It was 19-2 after a quarter and 23-2 before the Raiders started making frequent trips to the foul line.

Paige Chabala made South’s first field goal. It came three minutes into the second quarter. By then, the Hornets were well on their way to a 68-31 victory. It was almost an identical score to Salisbury’s 67-31 victory at South three days earlier.

“We’re always looking to hold teams to a low number,” Salisbury senior guard Anayia Fulson said.

The Hornets have allowed as few as 18 points this season. They held Ledford, the team that finished second to the Hornets in the CCC in the regular season, to 20 and 28.

For the season, the Hornets, who have taken on West Rowan and East Rowan, among others, have allowed 33.4 points per game. So South (4-21), which is very young and not very tall, did pretty well to break 30.

“We spend a lot of our practice time on defense,” Salisbury coach Lakai Brice said. “We know that if we play good defense, that’s going to create offense.”

Salisbury (23-1) doesn’t have the lethal quickness it possessed in its glory days, but it shoots the ball quite well. The three perimeter players — Rachel McCullough, Kyla Bryant and Fulson — combined to make eight 3-pointers against South. That’s eight more than South made.

Fulson got Salisbury started fast with two early 3-pointers and a three-point play off a steal.

“I was ready,” Fulson said. “I wasn’t worried about scoring a lot of points. I just wanted to make sure my team won.”

Salisbury’s two inside people — Jamecia Huntley and Jaleiah Gibson — are a nice combination. Huntley is an astounding athlete. Gibson is tough and powerful.

It’s a little scary, but the Hornets are even younger than South. Fulson is a senior. She’s been around long enough to score 1,200-plus points and play in a many big games, but McCullough and Gibson are only sophomores. Bryant, Coach Brice’s daughter, and Huntley are freshmen with early college offers. Another freshman, Mary Morgan, is the first Hornet off the bench.

South connected on only eight field goals, but the Raiders made 15 free throws. Bethany Rymer, a sophomore who leads South in scoring with 14 points per game, got eight of her 10 points at the foul line.

Left-handed and aggressive, Rymer scored 27 points against East Rowan. She had 20 in each of the previous meetings with Salisbury. She was under the weather some on Monday, and Salisbury did a good job defensively against her, taking away the 3-point line. Bryant did most of the defensive work.

“Kyla asked for the defensive assignment on Rymer tonight,” Brice said. “Rymer is a good player. We did a good job tonight of not letting her get into any kind of rhythm on offense. She’ll score a lot if she does.”

Salisbury led 31-9  late in the first half when McCullough finally made her first shot. That 3-ball got her going, and when she gets hot, she shoots it as well as anyone. She closed the third quarter with a personal 8-0 run for a 56-22 lead.

South managed to avoid a running clock (40-point lead) until there was just 2:40 left in the game. It was 68-28 at that point. That was another small achievement in a season in which the Raiders have taken baby-steps forward.

They tied for eighth place with Lexington, but won a drawing on Saturday morning to get the last spot in the tournament. The reward was a trip to Salisbury, which has won 15 straight since a Christmas tournament semifinal loss, but the Raiders made the most of the experience.

“We never stopped competing,” South coach Alex Allen said. “As a coach, that’s all you can ask.”

Salisbury will play fourth-seeded West Davidson in a 6 p.m. semifinal on Wednesday at Lexington.

•••

Stories on South coach Alex Allen’s first season at the helm of the Raiders and the outlook for the Salisbury girls in the 2A state playoffs are upcoming.

SOUTH (31) — Rymer 10, P. Chabala 6, McGuire 5, Harrington 5, M. Chabala 2, Cherry 2, Moore 1, Redmon, Mance.

SALISBURY (68) — McCullough 14, Fulson 13, Bryant 11, Huntley 9, Gibson 6, Morgan 5, Oats 4, Bolder 4, Mashore 2, McEntyre.

S. Rowan     2    9    11   9   — 31

Salisbury    19  15  22  12  — 68

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