High School Sports

Cleveland shakes off early jitters to down Garner in girls basketball

Garner’s Gwen Creath (12) drives in for a layup against Cleveland’s Myrayna Watkins (30).
Garner’s Gwen Creath (12) drives in for a layup against Cleveland’s Myrayna Watkins (30). newsobserver.com

Neither Garner nor Cleveland could get their offenses going in the first quarter of their girls basketball season-opener Tuesday night.

Cleveland got untracked in the second quarter. Garner never did.

The Rams, who trailed 4-1 after the first period, built a 16-8 halftime lead and went on to post a 41-21 victory.

“We’ve had first quarters like that before,” Cleveland coach Chris Danehower said. “It was the first game and we had a lot of new people trying to learn to play together. Really it was our defense that turned it up and made it easier for us.

“At halftime, we were able to talk to them and get them to execute better. We really pulled away in the second half. I was able to play a lot of people.”

The Rams, members of the Two Rivers 3A Conference, forced numerous Garner turnovers. The Trojans of the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference struggled from the field and the foul line, never finding their shooting touch.

“It was mostly us not doing what we normally do in practice,” Garner coach Hardrick Mays said. “We just couldn’t put anything in the basket. We couldn’t score.”

Cleveland did a good job on the backboards, with frontcourt players Kailjin Williamson (6-foot-1), Amber Scott (5-11) and Tehya Lee (6-0) all contributing to a rebounding edge for the Rams.

“We worked a lot on high-low passing in practice,” Danehower said. “We just wanted them to get the ball in a position where they had a chance to do something good.”

Turning point

The second quarter. After scoring just a single point in the first period, Cleveland put up 15 in the second quarter to take a 16-8 halftime lead. The Rams went on a 10-2 run to close out the second period and were never threatened after that.

They said it

“The first quarter when we couldn’t throw it in the ocean and had too many turnovers,” Cleveland coach Chris Danehower said. “Once we got ourselves together and got a little momentum, we were fine.”

Three who mattered

Myrayna Watkins, Cleveland: A 5-foot-9 senior guard, Watkins scored a game-high 14 points and also did a good job of pushing the ball upcourt for the Rams.

Kailjin Williamson, Cleveland: The 6-1 post player had nine points and also helped the Rams control the boards.

Nia Jackson, Garner: The senior guard had seven points and played aggressively for the Trojans.

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