Dec 26, 2012
With his team down five points at halftime and struggling to find any offensive rhythm against Rocky Mount, Dudley head coach Frank McNeil had a simple message for his players: Go inside.
They listened, and the strategy worked beautifully in helping the Panthers pick up a 60-54 win over Rocky Mount in the third game of the Mix 101.5 Girls Bracket of the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational.
"At halftime I told them that we were beating ourselves early on," McNeil said. "We had 15 turnovers in the first half and 12 with 5 minutes left in the second quarter. I told them that if we took care of the ball and got it down low that we could really put some points on the board."
The turnovers stopped immediately in the third quarter, and 6-foot-5 center Akela Maize promptly scored 8 straight points to give the Panthers their first lead of the game. 6-foot-1 power forward Kennedy Currie got in on the act as well, scoring 8 points in the second half. The pair finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds and, in the end, imposed their will on the smaller Gryphons.
"I didn't think they had an answer for what we have down low," McNeil said. "Sometimes when the shots aren't falling, you have to throw it in to [Maize] and let her go to work."
Maize said the halftime adjustments Dudley used to get the win were simple.
"We started working the high post and low post," she said. "A lot of times they would collapse on Kennedy and leave me wide open."
Dudley's interior players also benefited from solid ball-handling and passing from guards that initially struggled to adjust to Rocky Mount's fastbreak pace.
"It did take us some time to adjust, and we're working our best ball handler back into the rotation after she hurt her ankle three weeks ago," McNeil said.
Despite trailing by as many as 14 points in the final frame, Rocky Mount did not go quietly. The Gryphons scored 12 straight points to pull to within a pair in the final minute, but couldn't come up with a shot in the final two possessions to tie the game.
Dudley closed the deal with two free throws and a steal in the last 10 seconds, securing a trip to the semifinals of the Mix 101.15 Girls Bracket against the winner of Wednesday's nightcap between East Wake and Myers Park.
Moriah Davis led Dudley with 17 points, including three 3-pointers.
J'Kyra Brown led all scorers with 31 points, including 12 in the final quarter as Rocky Mount roared back. Carmen Richardson was the only other Grypon in double figures, finishing with 17 points, 13 of which came in the first half.
Rocky Mount will move into the consolation bracket and face the East Wake-Myers Park loser Thursday at noon.
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