WENDELL — East Wake’s increased emphasis on defense showed Friday in a non-conference upending of Sanderson.
No Spartan scored more than seven points and the Sanderson team was held to less than six points in all but one period as East Wake cruised to a 53-22 triumph.
The win boosted the Greater Neuse River 4A Warriors to 6-0, while the Cap-8 Spartans went away 1-3.
Turning point: The first quarter, which saw East Wake turn four Sanderson turnovers into a 6-0 lead in the first two minutes.
It took three and a half minutes for Sanderson to hit the scoreboard, compliments of a driving basket by the Spartans’ scoring leader Bria Gibson.
The Warriors finished the frame on a 13-3 run to lead 19-5.
What worked: Despite being outsized, East Wake’s Kianna Wynn got the assignment covering Gibson and fulfilled her duties.
“Even though Kianna wasn’t as tall I knew the physical matchup was better because Kianna is able to move, and I felt she’d do a better defensive job on (Gibson),” East Wake coach Toni Vick said.
Gibson – who averaged 17.3 points in Sanderson’s first three games against Middle Creek, Southern Durham and Knightdale – was held to seven points.
“It’s not a matter of anything Bria did,” Sanderson coach Glenn Frazier said. “I thought the East Wake player (Wynn) did a good job being physical with her and just caused some difficulty for her getting a clean look.
“It’s just one of those things where (East Wake) played some really aggressive, tough defense and we just missed some inside shots, too, that normally we would make.”
What didn’t work: The Spartans committed 17 turnovers in the game, including eight in the opening period.
“We’re in a little funk here where we’ve turned the ball over quite a bit,” Frazier said. “I’ve got to do a better job getting them prepared to be tough, physical with the basketball, and get them ready to see the kind of scrappy defenses we’ve seen.”
Being scrappy on defense has been Vick’s driving point since the Warriors held off a surging Millbrook in their season opener. She said it’s paid off.
“It’s been defense, defense, defense,” Vick said. “Offense is going to come, but we saw defense was what we really needed to work on. Now we’re actually getting better stopping the ball, trying to rebound better.”
Sanderson was most productive in the third quarter, when it matched East Wake’s 12 points with baskets by Gibson, Rachel Ricks, Mary Boylon and Nemoni Norman. But the Warriors gave up a single point in the final period, a Gibson free throw.
Putting up numbers: Angel Rizor, who snuck in a third-quarter buzzer beater for a 42-21 lead, led East Wake with 15 points. Wynn finished with 14.
Ricks was second, behind Gibson, in offensive output for Sanderson, adding six points on a pair of 3-pointers.
Going forward: Vick said she’s still looking for continual improvement from her players regardless of the score in any given game. She’s had little to complain about through six games the Warriors won by an average of 24 points.
“It comes from hard work,” Vick said. “Just looking at losing five seniors from last year and three of them starters, people are stepping up and that’s very pleasing to see them take that role. Everyone’s buying into the system.”
Sanderson is set to host Apex this Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Warriors open conference play at home against Garner on Friday at 6.
Moody: 919-829-4806; Twitter: @easternwakenews