New coach Trent Bunn has had his Knightdale girls’ basketball team on a roll ever since the season started.
And the Knights didn’t miss a beat Friday night as they opened their Greater Neuse River 4A Conference schedule on the road at improving West Johnston.
Mikaya Wilson scored 22 points to lead three players in double figures, and the Knights were never challenged in a 66-26 romp over the Wildcats.
Knightdale improved to 8-2 on the season, while West dropped to 4-2.
Shacora Cooper added 14 points for Knightdale, while Lovely Locklear chipped in 10.
“The main thing that helped us was that when the bench players came in they were at the same level of intensity as the starters,” said Bunn, a former assistant at UNC Wilmington. “They didn’t look at the scoreboard; they played fundamental basketball.
“That’s what I’m proud of. They kept things going. This has been like a roller-coaster ride so far. But we’ve got to be more consistent and establish our identity.”
West had just four players score, and none made it into double figures.
Jasmine Holder, Christian Sanders and Tanay Smith led the hosts with seven points apiece.
“They’re more athletic than we are,” said West coach Bill Pepicello. “We haven’t played anybody like them yet. They were just athleticism at its finest.
“We’ve just got to learn to play hard. We got down like 11-3, and all of a sudden you’re seeing people hanging their heads a little bit. You have to believe in yourselves and let the other team know you’re going to play hard on every possession.”
The Knights led 16-5 after one quarter and then held the Wildcats to one point in the second.
“We pushed the ball and ran plays well,” the sophomore Wilson said. “We did a good job listening to our coach tonight.
“We just need to keep our hands down on defense and still be more unselfish.”
Knightdale led 4-3 before going on an 8-0 spree, with four players scoring two-pointers in the run. The Knights were never challenged again.
“We came out scoring well,” Cooper said. “We went to the basket and got to score our free throws. We pushed the ball and ran the floor well. We could have played better, but we did a good job.
“But we’re putting in a lot of effort and not giving up on plays.”
West got a field goal from Sanders with 1:40 left in the first to cut the lead to 12-5. But its next two-pointer didn’t come until 6:07 remained in the third quarter. That basket made the score 38-8.
The Wildcats kept the score from getting further out of hand by outscoring the winners 16-13 in the final period.
“I got into some early foul trouble, and that wasn’t good,” Holder said. “Knightdale is tough. This is what conference play is going to be like. It’s better competition than what we’ve been playing.
“We’re going to have to be better at running and also at talking when we’re on defense.”