North’s balanced attack too much for South in 101-68 triumph

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The South came out sizzling in Friday’s North-South All-Star Girls Basketball Classic at South Charleston Community Center.

Behind nine early points from Greenbrier East’s Cadence Stewart, six of which came on a pair of three-pointers, the South jumped in front of the North, 14-6.

From that point forward, the North was dominant, rattling off 15 unanswered points in the first half and never looking back while building a 19-point halftime lead en route to a 101-68 victory.

“Some butterflies to start the game and South punched us in the mouth first, but we went on the 15-0 run and we really settled in,” said North coach James Beckman of East Fairmont. “After that, we hit the ground running. It was fun to watch.”

The North dressed 14 players to the South’s nine, and by halftime, all but one North player scored. When all was said and done, every member of the North roster dented the scoring column.

“It was a lot of fun. We rotated the ball,” said North guard Ana Young of Pendleton County, who finished with 17 points on a game-high eight field goals. “We were unselfish and we were looking to get everybody that ball for a chance to score.”

The stretch of 15 unanswered points began with the second of Sydney Baird’s four triples, cutting North’s deficit to 26-25.

After three points from St. Marys’ Zoe Davis, Bridgeport’s Gabby Reep made a jumper to give the North a four-point lead. Tucker County’s Kadie Colebank soon added one free throw, a follow-up basket and two more foul shots to make it a nine-point lead, and a driving bucket by North Marion’s Olivia Toland made it 37-26 for the game’s first double-digit Marin.

Late in the opening half, North scored 11 consecutive points to continue adding to its lead. Wheeling Park’s Sophie Abraham accounted for six points during that stretch, while Baird made a triple and Reep connected on an elbow jumper.

“Fourteen kids played in both halves and we kept the rotation a couple minutes because all of them started on their [high school] team. There’s so much talent out there and just tried to keep the combinations going and impose our will,” Beckman said.

North, which dressed five more players than South, went to halftime leading 57-38, despite Stewart leading all players with 14 points.

Stewart picked up where she left off to start the second half, connecting from behind the arc to make it a 16-point game. But she never scored again, and South managed only nine more field goals the rest of the way, while North pulled away for good.

Robert C. Byrd forward Avery Childers ran off seven straight points as part of a 9-0 spurt, and Young continued to make her presence felt to help her team continue playing with a comfortable lead.

Young converted a layup off a steal, then scored from close range again moments later, and after Reep followed with a layup of her own, North was clinging to a 79-52 advantage.

Baird led all players with 18 points and garnered North MVP honors. Young and Reep (10) were the other double-figure scorers in the victory, while seven other North players scored at least five points, including eight apiece from Colebank and Childers and seven each from Abraham and Ritchie County’s Rebekah Rupert.

“If you play a worse team, sometimes you don’t get as much ball movement, so I think it’s better to play on an elite level,” Young said.

Stewart’s 17 points led to her garnering South MVP honors. James Monroe’s Adyson Hines added 12 points in defeat, Logan’s Natalie Blankenship scored 10 and Ripley’s McKennan Hall contributed eight.

South was limited to 14 two-point field goals, while North managed 30.

“Some girls had different philosophies on how to play and some were zone only or man or junk defense,” Beckman said. “They adapted well to my man-to-man philosophy and mindset.”

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