What truly began as a memorable night for Knightdale basketball ultimately concluded on a rather sour note on Friday.
Senior Mikaya Wilson scored her 1,000th career varsity point for Knightdale in a 63-34 girls basketball victory over visiting Garner. Knightdale, however, could not complete a sweep as Garner’s boys broke open a tight game with a second-half surge for a 95-71 victory in a showdown of Greater Neuse River Conference foes.
Wilson, a 5-foot-6 guard bound for Appalachian State, scored 28 points for Knightdale (10-3, 4-1). She surpassed the 1,000-point mark with a pair of made free throws with 18.2 seconds remaining in the third quarter. She concluded the night with 1,004 points.
In the nightcap, Alex Reed had 19 points to lead five Garner players in double-digits as the defending state 4A champion Trojans (12-2, 5-0) remained perfect through five Greater Neuse contests. Jordan Shannon had 22 points to pace Knightdale (12-4, 3-2).
Knightdale and Garner waged a back-and-forth contest featuring high-flying dunks, impressive drives to the basket and some long-range marksmanship.
The Knights trailed by nine in the first half but rallied to take a 53-50 lead on a basket by Dondre’ Griffin with 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter. Garner, though, would outscore Knightdale, 16-7, the remainder of the quarter – Thomas Allen and Kenyon Burt accounting for four points each during that stretch – to take a 66-60 lead entering the fourth quarter.
The final quarter was all Garner, the Trojans seizing control with a 12-4 run capped by a pair of free throws by Reed that made it 78-64 with 5:12 to go.
Garner made its final eight free throws of the game after earlier missing its first eight attempts and shooting just 7-for-20 from the free-throw line in the first half.
“I fired the free-throw coach at halftime,” Garner coach Eddie Gray said with a wry smile. “I don’t know what happened with the free throws, we usually shoot a lot better than that.
“I felt we left a lot of points on the court in the first half, but we picked up the defensive intensity at the end of the third quarter, got some rebounds on the back end and picked up a lot of easy buckets. It’s a big win for us on the road.”
Knightdale coach Anthony Byrd felt Garner’s depth was the difference in the outcome.
“They had a lot of players they could go to, and we had some guys that got in some foul trouble early,” Byrd said. “I just wished we could have gone a little deeper, it shows we still have some work if we want to get to their level.”
Knightdale took control early against Garner (4-9, 1-4), scoring the game’s first 12 points and building a 19-3 lead through the opening quarter.
Wilson played a significant role in the strong start. She scored six in the quarter and also assisted on several other Knightdale baskets in the frame.
Knightdale later extended its lead to 40-18 at halftime, and then the only significant question remaining was whether Wilson would get her 1,000th point. She did just that thanks in large part to an 11-point third quarter that featured seven points in a span of 26 seconds late.
“It was a huge moment, because I was the first girl (at Knightdale) to achieve that,” said Wilson, a fourth-year varsity player. “This was a big honor.”
Knightdale had not played since a 62-49 loss at Southeast Raleigh on Dec. 17 that produced the Knights’ first Greater Neuse loss of the season.
“We had a long layoff, it took a little while to shake the rust off,” Knightdale coach Trent Bunn said. “We have some things to clean up, but we were able to apply some defensive pressure and get some baskets around the rim and extend the lead.”