NEW BERN — The West Carteret girls basketball team earned its most impressive win of the young season Tuesday, beating a talented New Bern squad 51-49 on the road.
The Patriots evened their record to 2-2 – they lost 64-44 to East Surry on Saturday, Nov. 23 – while the Bears dropped their first game to fall to 2-1.
“It was kind of an ugly win, but it was a hostile environment and my girls did not crumble,” West coach Lindsey Howell said.
West led 51-49 with 1:24 left in the game and held on despite going 1-for-6 from the foul line down the stretch. New Bern had four good looks in the final minute and a half including Kyla Brice’s three-pointer at the buzzer that was just off the mark.
“Free-throw shooting almost got us,” Howell said. “We went 2-for-11 in the first half. That’s not great. That could have made the difference.”
After going 2-for-11 from the charity stripe in the first two quarters, the Patriots went 3-for-10 in the second half and finished up 5-for-21 (24 percent). New Bern shot 10-for-19 (53 percent) from the foul line.
Nether team held more than a five-point lead in the first half. New Bern then opened up the third quarter on a 7-2 run to take the biggest lead of the night at 38-30 with 6:16 to go in the frame.
Journee McDaniel, who averaged 14.3 points, 11.4 rebounds, 4.6 steals and 2.6 blocks in a fantastic freshman season, scored four of her game-high 17 points during the stretch.
The Bears appeared ready to run away with the game at that point as the student body in the stands started to vocally get behind them, but the Patriots responded, closing the third quarter and opening the fourth on an 18-3 run.
While New Bern had some of the best players on the court, West showed it was the better team for one night as Kiki Hester scored six, Mackenzie Reed and Annie Fitzpatrick scored four apiece and Caroline Beaver and Jayden Lupton each scored two during the run to help their team take a 48-41 lead at the 5:49 mark of the fourth.
“They have a lot of good players, but I’m happy with how we played as a team,” Howell said. “I hope to say that a lot this season. That is the theme for this season, how can we build as a team. The girls are working on it.”
West continued its balanced scoring with nearly four players reaching double digits. Reed led the way with 13 points followed by Hester and Beaver with 10 apiece and Cayman Montgomery with eight.
“Cayman didn’t shoot it as well as she usually does, but she still brought it on defense, still rebounded,” Howell said. “And other players stepped up. I hope it goes like that all season. It has so far.”
The Bears answered by outscoring the Patriots 8-2 over the next three minutes thanks to three points apiece from Keyanna Stewart and Tyra Wright and two from Destinee Banks-Wordington to pull to within one at 50-49 with 2:42 remaining.
Banks-Wordington had 13 points while Wright had seven and Stewart scored six.
Adrianna Rhodes hit one of two free throws at the 1:24 mark to provide the final points of the contest and give West breathing room at 51-49. The Patriots then shut out New Bern down the stretch.
“If we don’t play good fundamental defense, help-side defense, we aren’t talented enough offensively to do it,” Howell said. “If we can’t shut them down on defense, we’re not going to win. It has to be team-oriented.”
New Bern began the season with a 59-27 win over White Oak (2-1) and a 44-21 triumph over Havelock (0-3).
East Surry ran away from the Patriots 64-44 in the previous game in what turned out to be a lopsided foul-shooting contest in the Knightdale Tip-Off Classic.
The Cardinals, last year’s 1A state runner-up, went 32-for-51 (63 percent) from the free-throw line. West went 8-for-24 (35 percent).
“You can’t beat a team like that,” Howell said. “We scored less points than they shot free throws. There was nearly a whistle every time down the floor. There was no flow. I don’t even know. It’s hard to take away anything from that game.”
Three West players fouled out while three others finished with four fouls.
A night after defeating East Carteret 60-12, the Patriots made the 147-mile ride to Knightdale on Saturday to play East Surry at 1:40 p.m. and play its third game in five days. They understandably started slowly, and were outscored 15-6 in the first quarter.
The Patriots rebounded to outscore the Cardinals 19-18 in the second quarter to go into the break trailing 33-25. Adrianna Rhodes scored nine of her team-high 12 points in the period, Jayden Lupton scored four and Kiki Hester, Caroline Beaver and Emme Baber had two points apiece.
However, the Cardinals took a 19-6 advantage in the third quarter to take a commanding 52-31 leading heading into the final frame.
Mackenzie Reed joined Rhodes in the double-digit scoring department with 11 points and Lupton added eight. Dasia Lambert and Cadence Lawson led East Surry with 16 apiece followed by Rosie Craven with 10.
West will continue its tough nonconference slate this week, traveling to Croatan (2-0) on Tuesday, Kinston (3-0) on Wednesday and East Carteret (0-1) on Friday to play five consecutive road games.
“You have to play the best to be the best,” Howell said. “I haven’t been disappointed in any game this year, every game has been different. The kids have stepped up and performed each time. We’ve had some wins and some losses, but they’ve showed a lot of potential.”