KNIGHTDALE — Two mid-game scoring surges by the East Wake girls left Knightdale at the point of no return as the Warriors won the teams’ conference opener 62-43 Friday night.
Just after Knightdale (2-7, 0-1 Greater Neuse River 4A) recovered in the second quarter from an early, 8-point deficit, the Warriors (4-2, 1-0) hit the gas.
Tianna Knuckles, who scored 14 points for East Wake in the first half alone, hit a 3-pointer and followed that up with a pair of layups resulting from back-to-back steals on Knightdale inbound passes. She forced a third-straight Knightdale turnover moments later and fed Shamara Richardson in the lane to set up East Wake’s largest lead of the game up to that point, 33-20, with less than two minutes to play in the first half.
Knightdale coach Anthony Byrd said his team, which was plagued by turnovers in the game with 26, never truly recovered from the 12-0 run that boosted the Warriors’ lead to 34-20 at the half.
“We had about three or four turnovers in a row and that pretty much set the tone of the game for them,” Byrd said. “That hurt us a lot, and we couldn’t ever get back from that.”
Kianna Wynn, who led all scorers in the game and came up three points shy of tying her career best of 22 points, kept East Wake’s offensive spree alive after the break. She scored nine points during a 13-0 run that propelled East Wake’s lead to 47-20 halfway through the third quarter.
“I just talked to my team and told them that we needed to communicate and pass the ball more, and if we worked as a team we could win this game like we did tonight,” Wynn said.
Wynn said she fed off the foundation Knuckles helped lay before halftime.
“It helped a lot,” she said of her team’s first significant surge. “We kind of started out slow, but we came out and pushed through.”
Jasmine Johnson scored the Knights’ first basket of the second half after her team had witnessed five and a half minutes of offensive silence. Knightdale went on to score 10 unanswered points to trail 47-30 at the start of the fourth quarter.
“They started getting back to what they were doing well at the beginning of the game,” Byrd said. “But the middle of the game was kind of like a breakdown, mentally.
“What we need to do is just value the basketball and be more careful how we make our passes. It’s a work in progress for us right now.”
The win marked the Warriors’ second 19-point win in a row – righting their ship from a 63-48 loss at Wakefield on Dec. 5. The loss was Knightdale’s fourth straight. The Knights’ last win came Nov. 30 against Enloe.
Beyond Wynn’s 19 points, Knuckles finished with 16 points and Shakerrya Morrison pitched in seven.
Knightdale was led by Persia Brown with 12 points, followed by Amber Wright with nine points and Rakayla Person with eight.