South girls on historic win streak

Published 9:26 am Thursday, January 21, 2016

South Davie’s girls basketball team wasted no time putting Ellis in a deep hole on Jan. 11, and the visiting Tigers rolled 39-14 to reach the longest winning streak (seven) in 11 years.

The 8-2 Tigers own the best winning streak since the 2004-05 seventh-grade team won nine in a row. That team, coached by Becky Miller, finished 11-2 behind Ashley Smoot, Sara Handy, Maleia Stevenson and Emeral Gadson.

South extended the lead to 26-8 at halftime and 31-13 after the third quarter.

“The girls played really well, especially in the first quarter,” coach Julie Snow said. “That was the best first quarter we’ve had, including last year.”

South is 16-7 in two years under Snow. In the four-year span from 2010-11 through 2013-14, South won just nine games.

“We had been struggling with getting the press to work, but it clicked this game,” she said. “We had really been on Rylea Carter about shifting back and dropping on the press, and she did a great job on it. Klara Lewis did an excellent job at the top. She really forced a lot of turnovers on the sideline. Kayana Caldwell also did a good job shifting.

“Our defense had been getting burnt at the free-throw-line extended. Coach Ryan O’Neal had us put in a 1-3-1 and it worked really well. Our girls caught on quickly in practice and it showed in the game. I hope it fixes our defensive struggles.”

Even though Ellis put a box-and-one on Carter, she scored her average with 14 points. It was her fifth straight double-figure game. At 14.1, she has the highest average in 12 years. Meisha Fowler scored 17.6 per game for South’s eighth-grade club in 2003-04. Ironically, that team was coached by Rylea’s mother, Beth Carter.

“It helps when you have people like Madisyn Cockerham, who can find Rylea anywhere on the court and give her a good screen,” Snow said. “Klara does a good job at that, too.”

Cayla Hartsell had nine points, Caldwell seven, Maliyah Streater four and Makayla Phelps three.

“Amber Wallace has been giving us good minutes off the bench,” she said. “She plays aggressive defense and has been our best rebounder the last two games. This team is clicking really well. We have enjoyed watching them come together.”

North Davie was blown out 47-29 at St. Leo’s on Jan. 12 despite 22 points from Amber Strader, whose previous high was 16 against Summit on Dec. 10.

Coach Trevor Gooch said the eighth-grade point guard “hustles the whole game.”

Ellis settled a score with host North Davie on Jan. 14, winning 25-21 to end a four-game losing streak.

While North fell to 1-12, the Jaguars (2-9) picked up their first win since Dec. 10.

When North edged Ellis 25-22 on Dec. 3, the Wildcats were carried by Chanel Fowler’s 13 points. Man, could they have used Fowler in the rematch. She was injured on Dec. 4 and has missed nine games.

“We are still unsure of her return,” Gooch said. “Chanel was a big loss for us. She is a good post player.”

In the loss to Ellis, North relied on Strader, who scored 11 points. Abbey Custer was next with three.

“Our girls played real hard by pressing and diving for loose balls,” Gooch said. “But we have a hard time putting the ball in the basket.”

N. Iredell 31, N. Davie 6 – Amber Strader 4, Megan Cash 2.

S. Davie 39 – Rylea Carter 14, Cayla Hartsell 9, Kayana Caldwell 7, Maliyah Streater 4, Makayla Phelps 3, Klara Lewis 2.

Ellis 14

N. Wilkes 48, N. Davie 11 – Amber Strader 8, Abbey Custer 3.

St. Leo’s 47, N. Davie 29 – Amber Strader 22, Megan Cash 4, Desiree Johnson 2, Kaitlyn Fletcher 1.

Ellis 25

N. Davie 21 – Amber Strader 11, Abbey Custer 3, Megan Cash 2, Desiree Johnson 2, Madalen Decanio 2, Grace Hurst 1.