CLAYTON — Knightdale’s girls basketball team used the speed of point guard Mikaya Wilson and the inside strength of Persia Brown to roll to a 59-30 victory over Clayton in a Greater Neuse River 4A Conference game on Monday night.
Wilson scored a game-high 16 points and was a press-breaker for the Knights (14-4, 7-2 GNRC). Brown scored the first nine points of the game to give Knightdale a demanding lead, and she finished with 14 points.
Clayton (12-6, 5-4) used a trapping zone press in the second quarter to pull within 15-14, but Wilson began to dribble through the pressure and set up easy shots at the other end. The Knights opened up a 24-16 lead by halftime and were up 43-24 at the end of the third quarter.
“Clayton does a really good job in the 1-2-2,” Knightdale coach Trent Bunn said. “It didn’t catch us by surprise but we had to knock the rust off (from not having practiced the week before because of school closings).
“Sometimes the best press-breaker is a good point guard that can dribble. Sometimes it is best to get it in (Wilson’s) hands, and if she can beat you it gives you an advantage at the other end.”
In the third period, Wilson was also the finisher after breaking through the traps, taking the ball the length of the floor. She had eight of the Knights’ first 12 points in the third frame, twice taking it the full distance and twice converting steals into fast-break baskets.
“We’ve just got to play good defense and the offense will take care of itself,” Bunn said. “I was really proud of Aleeya (Steward). Taisha Murphy is an excellent player (for Clayton) and Aleeya stepped up to the challenge and kind of set the tone for our defense.”
Murphy, the Comets’ top scorer who is averaging 20 points per game, was held to five points. Haley Wilkins led the Comets with eight points.
Bunn used his depth to wear down the Comets, substituting freely throughout the game.
“All the bench players came in and did a wonderful job,” Bunn said. “They kept it going. They all played well.”
Clayton struggled with Knightdale’s triangle-and-two defense, Comets coach Marlon Lee said.
“Offensively, we just had too many turnovers,” Lee said. “The unforced turnovers hurt and we missed some easy shots. But credit Knightdale. They are a good, feisty team.
“I told our girls we still have plenty of season left. We just want to put this one behind us and keep pressing on. We’ll bounce back.”
Lee said the Comets simply could not find a way to slow down Wilson.
“Speed kills,” Lee said. “No matter what we tried to do, full court or half court, she got it and sped right through us and was able to make good plays.”