Lady Mustangs Clinch YVC Crown
After a deflating 59-48 loss to Albemarle on Jan. 14, North Moore girls’ basketball head coach Sammy McNeill issued a challenge to his team at their next practice.
“I said, ‘you all know Sammy McNeill doesn’t like to lose, and I know you don’t like to lose,’” he said. “I said, ‘that’s the last game we lose.’”
He was right.
McNeill’s team hasn’t lost since. On Senior Night in Robbins Friday, it closed out their regular season with gusto, thrashing North Rowan 80-50 to sew up the program’s first regular season conference championship since 1996.
The Lady Mustangs finished the regular season with an 18-5 overall record and 14-2 mark in the Yadkin Valley Conference. Friday completed a remarkable turnaround of a program that went 0-20 when this year’s seniors were freshmen. McNeill took over as head coach the next year, and the team has steadily progressed since.
“It’s kind of like a Cinderella story,” senior guard Katelyn Sheffield said. “To come out my freshman year and win no games at all to winning the conference championship my senior year. It’s just awesome.”
Sheffield finished with 19 points Friday.
North Moore got off to a bit of a slow start against the Lady Cavaliers, who had won five straight — including games against second-place Albemarle and third-place Chatham Central — going into Friday’s game. North Rowan built a 9-2 lead early, but the Lady ’Stangs, who rarely get rattled, quickly turned it around.
An 8-0 run to end the first quarter, thanks to free throws by Sheffield and strong interior play from center Tyisha Horne, put the ’Stangs out front 10-9 and they never relinquished the lead.
Junior forward Shakorya Brower scored 10 of her game-high 23 points in the second quarter to build a 29-19 lead at the break.
“Just play as a team,” senior guard Tashonna Farmer, who finished with nine points, said about her team’s ability to dig itself out of early holes. “That’s what wins games. We gotta play as a team. One person can’t do everything. We play as a team, we come out and play hard.”
The lead continued to grow to 20 in the third quarter when North Moore outscored their opponents 23-13. Brower picked up seven more points, Farmer and Holly Green each hit from three-point land, and Jalisa Davis got into the action.
The shots kept falling in the final frame. North Moore’s biggest lead of the night happened to be the final score. They had success getting out in the open court and running, their preferred style of play.
Other top scorers for the Mustangs included Davis with 12 points and Horne with eight. Nine different players scored for North Moore.
Tiffany Brown led North Rowan with 18 points. Ronesha Bradley added 12. JoJo Carby had eight.
The close-knit teammates mobbed each other on the court after the game, donning conference championship T-shirts. Afterward, Farmer, Sheffield and Jamie Garner — the team’s three seniors — were honored as part of the Senior Night festivities.
“It’s like a second family,” Farmer said. “They’re like my sisters.”
The Lady Mustangs will have the weekend to celebrate their conference championship before getting back to business Monday. As the top seed in the YVC tournament, they’ll host West Montgomery at 7 p.m. in the first round.
The semifinals and finals will be hosted by South Davidson later in the week.
“It’s a great group of young ladies,” McNeill said. “I’ve loved working with them. I’ve enjoyed these three seniors.”
McNeill said he and his girls thought they had a chance to win the conference at the outset of the season, but after recovering from an early conference losses to Chatham Central and the Albemarle, it became more and more evident that goal was within reach. In the end, everything fell into place.
“It’s pretty when everything comes together,” he said. “It’s nice.”
North Moore appears to be peaking at the right time, and it’s clear that his team is focused heading into the postseason.
“We’re going to keep pushing hard,” Sheffield said. “We’re out there to win it.”
Contact John Krahnert III at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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