Kianna Wynn said she and fellow East Wake girls basketball players were frustrated to see Knightdale’s girls upset Southeast Raleigh on Feb. 3.
After all, Southeast is East Wake’s top rival and one the Warriors have finished runner-up to in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference standings for the past four seasons.
“It made us mad because we know that we can beat Southeast, because if Knightdale beat them we know we can beat Southeast,” Wynn said.
The East Wake senior forward took her frustration out on the Knights on Friday, pouring in a game-high 28 points as the Warriors won the regular season finale for both teams, 64-58. They entered the game tied for second place in the league standings, and with the win the Warriors (17-6, 12-2 GNRC) earned the right to host in the first round of the state playoffs.
A trend in the game was the ability by Knightdale (16-7, 11-3) to answer East Wake’s offense. After trailing 22-15 through one quarter, Knightdale came back from an 11-point deficit, the largest of the game.
A deep jumper by Zee Bowens had Knightdale within 30-25 just past the midway point in the second period. Knights point guard Mikaya Wilson followed with a short jumper to make it 32-30 at 2:55, and then unselfish play between Bowens and Lovely Locklear ended with an easy basket by Rakayla Person that tied the game at 32-all.
“When we started we jumped off, but then got sluggish,” Wynn said. “We thought we had it but just lost our lead so we had to come back in the second half and work even harder, and we did.”
East Wake’s Angel Rizor (15 points) drew a fourth foul on Bowens with 5:32 left in the third quarter Locklear picked up her fourth foul six seconds later, but the Knights’ reserves hardly missed a step while the starters sat out until the start of the fourth. At the same time, Wilson and Melody Prichard (17 points each) found a groove on offense to Knightdale its first lead of the night, 44-41, with 3:24 in the third.
“The bench stepped up, but plain and simple we just got out-rebounded,” said Knights coach Trent Bunn. “We probably lost anywhere between 30 to 38 second-chance points. You just can’t win like that.”
East Wake turned to its usual playmakers to share the workload in the final frame.
A Wynn jumper at 4:50 returned the lead to the Warriors. East Wake guard Ciera Williams (12 points) drew a fourth foul on Wilson at 4:06 and hit both free throws for the 55-50 advantage. Rizor answered a basket by Locklear with her own driving shot to keep the Warriors ahead 62-56 with 1:35 to play.
Wynn was perfect from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter and hit 11 of her 14 attempts from the line in the game.
“It was teamwork,” Wynn said. “Me and Angel were working the high-low and knocking down shots and rebounding and boxing out and taking it to the hoop.”