Girls basketball: Knightdale 66, Garner 31

Knightdale girls heat up, knock down Garner

amoody@newsobserver.comJanuary 10, 2014 

— Garner’s offense cooled down just as one of Knightdale’s top scorers was heating up, and from that point onward things got out of hand for the Trojan girls on Tuesday.

The Knights soared to a 66-31 conference win on the wings of four players who scored in double figures – including Lovely Locklear and Mikaya Wilson, who each had 18 points. No Garner player scored more than six points as the Trojans fell to 1-7 overall and 0-4 in Greater Neuse River 4A action.

“We were in it close in the first half and then we stopped making shots,” said veteran Trojans coach Hardrick Mays. “That gave (the Knights) the opportunity to make shots and they got on a big run. It’s frustrating. It’s inconsistency.”

Knightdale (11-3, 4-1) didn’t settle in on offense until the second quarter, which saw Locklear by herself outscore the Garner team 10-8. The junior guard’s 3-pointer with 4:12 left in the half gave the Knights a 16-15 advantage – their first lead since the opening minute – and marked the beginning of the end for the Trojans.

Garner committed four turnovers in the final three minutes of the half as Locklear and Knightdale senior Aleeya Steward each hit from beyond the arc in a 14-0 run that left the Knights up 32-18 at halftime.

Locklear finished 4-for-9 from 3-point range and added three assists and a pair of steals.

“I just kept on shooting,” Locklear said. “Whenever I feel like I’ve got the shot I just keep on taking it, no matter if I make it or not, until I get my shot right.”

The Trojans matched the Knights in a sloppy exhibition by both teams early on. More fouls were issued than points in the first three minutes of the game. After four minutes, 30 seconds had passed, the teams had combined for eight points and seven fouls.

A lay-up by Samarri Bowser gave the Trojans an 8-3 lead lead at the 2:45 mark, but Locklear’s first deep shot set up a 10-10 knot after one quarter.

Garner junior guard Adaya Thorpe answered with a 3-pointer to start the second quarter and Trojans senior Khayani Chandler turned a turnover into a pair of free throws for the quick 5-point lead. Chandler and Bowser led Garner with six points and two steals each.

“Give Garner credit,” first-year Knightdale coach Trent Bunn said. “They played hard and I think they are a much better team than their record indicates. They came out swinging and it was a dogfight. We just have to be able to establish our own identity early and stick with it.”

The Knights went on to outscore the Trojans 25-11 in the third quarter and 9-2 in the fourth, a relief for Bunn.

“In the first half I was scared,” Bunn said. “I liked how we responded in the second half. We’ve got to learn to play through mistakes, what I call it is PACE – being persistent against crucial errors.

“We’ve got to have the same mentality whether were making shots or missing shots.”

Persia Brown added 11 points and two steals for Knightdale and Steward finished with 10 points, three steals and two assists.

Moody: 919-829-4806; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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