WENDELL — East Wake’s girls basketball team used its inside strength and strong backcourt defense to roll past an injury-depleted Garner squad Friday night in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference opener for both teams.
The Warriors (7-1 overall) got 16 points from 6-foot sophomore Angel Rizor and 14 points from 5-foot-9 junior Kianna Wynn as they jumped to an 11-0 lead and went on to win 52-26. Briana Arnold, a 5-foot-10 forward, added seven points and helped the Warriors control the boards.
“I thought we did a good job of crashing the boards and rebounding,” East Wake coach Toni Vick said. “We’ve still got stuff that we need to keep improving on to get better.”
East Wake passed the ball well inside, with its bigger players often finding a teammate under the basket for an easy shot.
“My girls are very unselfish, so they look for each other every time down the court,” Vick said. “Sometimes they over-pass it but that is something we do work on, running a high-low post and them looking for each other.”
Garner (1-4) was playing without two injured starters – 5-foot-10 Shalisa Davis, a senior post player, and senior guard-forward Kelsey Bryan. Junior forward Montana Dare was also out.
“My best shooter was out and my big man, so it affected our play,” Garner coach Hardrick Mays said. “(East Wake) played well inside. We’re going to be OK when we get our players back.
“Their frontcourt really pounded us tonight. Hopefully, we’ll have our players back for two conference games next week.”
Khayani Chandler, a senior forward, picked up the scoring slack for Garner, pouring in a game-high 17 points. But no other Trojan scored more than four points.
Down 15-2 at the end of the first quarter, Garner pulled within 17-10 in the second quarter but East Wake went on a 7-0 run to push the margin back to 24-10 and kept the lead in double figures the rest of the game.
In addition to their inside play, the Warriors also got strong backcourt play, particularly on defense. East Wake forced numerous turnovers that led to fast-break baskets for the Warriors.
“We are used to picking up the tempo,” Vick said. “We did a good job of playing defense and keeping pressure on the ball. That is what we work for every practice, every game, working to keep pressure on the ball and force those turnovers.”
That inside-outside combination was a winning one for the Warriors on Friday night, and Vick likes the way her team is playing in the early going.
“We have a good chemistry,” Vick said. “The girls have been playing together in the summer and getting in the gym and just playing. The chemistry is getting better.
“That is what we are striving for, is to keep playing hard and to start the conference off right.”