WENDELL — Kianna Wynn had 17 points and Angel Rizor added 14, leading East Wake to a 62-46 win over visiting West Johnston in girls’ basketball Friday night.
East, which has never lost to the Wildcats, improved to 11-2 overall and 3-1 in Greater Neuse River 4A action while West dropped to 7-4 and 2-2.
Jarmeia Holder led the Wildcats with 22 points while Tanay Smith chipped in 10.
What worked: The halftime speech from East coach Toni Vick, apparently.
The Warriors were heavy favorites coming into the game, but West stayed almost stride for stride through the first half.
There were two ties and two lead changes in the first quarter, and the Wildcats trailed only 31-27 before Wynn scored the final four points of the half.
But then came the third quarter. East scored the first 16 points of the period to complete a 20-0 run before Holder’s layup with 3:12 left in the third broke the Wildcats’ scoring drought of 6:36.
“We just didn’t play up to our potential,” Vick said. “I’m not discrediting West Johnston. Their guards are pretty decent. But free throws were keeping them in the game.
“At halftime I just told the girls we weren’t playing up to our potential, and we weren’t moving on defense or offense. We weren’t doing what we needed to do. We just have to have the mindset that no matter who we’re playing against we’ve got to be ready every game.”
What didn’t work: The Wildcats’ depth, which makes a difference against talented opponents who like to run.
Injuries and other factors have cut West’s roster to only eight players. The Wildcats are improving but they’ve never had a winning season and don’t have dozens and dozens of players at tryouts.
“Last time we were here we played them well until the third quarter, too,” West coach Bill Pepicello said. “In the first half tonight I thought we played as hard as we could play. It’s just a numbers thing. We just don’t have them. I’d love to have another big girl and another guard to be able to rotate. I don’t think we could have played much better.”
Putting up numbers: Wynn was a solid stat-sheet stuffer in the victory.
Not only did she have the 17 points, but also finished with team highs in rebounds with seven and assists and steals with six apiece.
“We were all right tonight,” Wynn said. “We could have played better defense by not reaching so much. Coach just told us to keep the intensity up. I think we underestimated West Johnston early in the game and thought it was going to be easy.”
Turning point: The third-quarter run was the killer.
Wynn and Rizor combined for all but two of the 20 points during that spree between Holder’s final free throws of the first half and her only field goal of the third.
“All we’ve got is speed,” Holder said. “We just don’t have any height, just a lot of guards. Tonight I think we kind of gave up after halftime when they went on their run.”