The back of the Knightdale girls basketball team’s warm-up jerseys were emblazoned with the phrase “Allergic 2 Average,” the team’s motto this season.
The Knights were anything but average Tuesday night, clicking on both offense and defense from the start in rolling to a 74-38 victory over Clayton in a Greater Neuse River 4A Conference game.
Knightdale (6-1, 2-0 GNRC) jumped to a 13-0 lead and was never threatened by injury-plagued Clayton (1-8, 0-2).
“That’s our motto this year,” Knightdale coach Trent Bunn said of the warm-up apparel, worn by all the Knights. “There are three ways to do that. The first is not to talk about anything, to work hard and let our work speak for itself. The second is coming early to the gym every day, talking on defense every day. Three, stay ready so we don’t have to get ready.”
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The Knights used a trapping man-to-man defense to fuel its offense by forcing turnovers and getting out on the fast break. The result was a balanced attack, with four Knights scoring in double figures.
Sophomore Melody Prichard led the way with 15 points, senior Kia Holden had 13, Lovely Locklear added 11 and Zee Bowens 10.
“We work on defense every day in practice, just playing defense with no hands, making the ball handler uncomfortable and let the chips fall where they may,” Bunn said. “We believe in sharing the ball. It doesn’t matter who brings home the bacon, we are all going to eat.”
Knightdale, which finished third in the Greater Neuse last season, is looking to be in the race in the conference again. The Knights have a mix of talented youngsters and veterans.
“We have got some 10th-graders (Prichard, Bowens and Jessica Parker) who play a big key for us,” Bunn said. “Then we have junior (point guard) Mikaya Wilson and our senior leadership in Kia Holden and Lovely Locklear.
“We’ve got potential. But we’ve got a lot of work to do. We can’t get complacent, can’t get comfortable.”
Against Clayton, the Knights used reserves liberally but kept up the pressure throughout – leading 25-6 at the end of the first quarter and 46-19 at halftime.
Clayton battled, but the absence of senior starting guards Taisha Murphy and Auston Norton, both out with injuries, kept the Comets from slowing down the Knights.
“We hadn’t really seen a lot full-court pressure and the style of defense that they played,” said Clayton coach Marlon Lee. “But it’s the Greater Neuse Conference, one of the best conferences in the state. We’re going to see some more of this.”
Alexis Teel led Clayton with 12 points and Mya Williams had 10.
“One thing I talked to the girls about was consistent effort,” Lee said. “I saw that in spurts tonight. Mya Williams was all over the place tonight and Alexis Teel was too.
“Credit Knightdale, they had great guard play. But we probably had 11 or 12 turnovers in the first quarter. That dictated the game.”