By Cam Huffman
It’s not the trophy it hopes to eventually add to the case this March, but Greenbrier East picked up another piece of hardware Saturday, winning the Spartan Holiday Classic with a 65-51 win over Preston County.
The Class AAA No. 6 Lady Spartans (7-0) led by as many as 22 and never trailed after the first 4 minutes, establishing firm control from the start.
Chaunté McDowell finished off a stellar tournament with a 31-point, seven-assist effort, and Sydney Nunley produced her usual double-double with 10 points and 19 rebounds as East dominated the boards, pulling down 42 rebounds compared to 25 for the visiting Knights.
“We had a shootaround before the game and went over what we wanted to do,” said Greenbrier East head coach Jim Justice. “Our girls did exactly that.
“We checked their cutters. Sydney did a great job defending their big girls and not getting in foul trouble. They were a nice team, but we just never let them get ahead.”
Even without the rebounding advantage, McDowell wasn’t about to let anybody else leave Spartan Gym with the championship. A fourth option on the Lady Spartans’ 2012 state championship team, the senior guard developed into East’s second option behind Bianca André on a team that went through the regular season undefeated year ago. This year, McDowell has become the clear go-to option, scoring both inside and out and playing an aggressive style of defense that often leads to points in transition.
After scoring 21 points Friday night, McDowell was 9 of 18 from the field Saturday, including a 4 for 10 mark form 3-point range. She had four rebounds, two steals and blocked a shot.
“She’s doing the things a leader is supposed to do,” said Justice. “She’s sharing the ball and doing all the things we want her to do.
“I’m really pleased, because I wasn’t sure how she’d handle that role. She’s handled it great and improved her game tremendously. She’s playing like a really special player.”
East, which shot 41 percent from the field, also got nine points and four assists from point guard Chloe Honaker. Lexi Tincher had four points and four boards, and Taylor Hill came off the bench for six points and seven rebounds.
Preston County (4-3) was led by a 16-point effort from Karlee Good and 11 from Emma McClelland. The Lady Knights struggled to find good looks against a relentless East defense and was just 2 of 11 from 3-point range in the second half, allowing the Lady Spartans to take a 46-28 lead into the final quarter.
East will be back in action Friday when it hosts Philip Barbour. Preston will be at Bridgeport on Thursday.
— E-mail: chuffman@
register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.
Preston County (4-3)
Karlee Good 3-10 8-10 16, Kaitlyn Workman 2-4 1-2 6, Alexis Schoolcraft 0-3 2-4 2, Emma McClelland 4-9 0-0 11, Tiffany Sanders 2-4 0-0 4, Savanna Ash 1-1 0-0 2, Tory Hershman 2-2 0-0 4, Marlee McCrobie 1-5 0-0 2, Brittany Sanders 1-4 2-5 4. Totals 16-42 13-21 51.
Greenbrier East (7-0)
Katie Wilmer 1-1 0-0 3, Sydney Nunley 5-11 0-3 10, Chloe Honaker 3-9 0-1 9, Chaunté McDowell 9-18 9-10 31, Lexi Tincher 2-7 0-0 4, Taylor Hill 3-6 0-0 6, Chelsie Baker 1-5 0-0 2, Ellen Henthorn 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-58 9-14 65.
PC 11 9 8 23 — 51
GE 17 11 18 19 — 65
3-point goals — PC: 6 (McClelland 3, Good 2, Workman). GE: 8 (McDowell 4, Honaker 3, Wilmer). Fouled out — None.