Greenbrier East didn’t just bring a ton of fans to its game Friday night at arch-rival Woodrow Wilson.
The top-rated Spartans brought their shooting as well.
Playing before an animated crowd in the remodeled Woodrow gym, East shot 43 percent from the floor and led by as many as 18 points before settling for a 65-55 victory.
“It was a nice night of basketball,” coach Jim Justice said. “I’m proud of both schools.”
Undaunted by a sluggish, 9-3 start, East (14-0) narrowed the gap, then went on a 15-0 run to lead 24-14 by the first quarter’s end.
“We kept a press on Woodrow, hoped they’d rush some shots,” Justice said. “Once we got the feel for the game, we dropped back into a zone and shut them down.”
Senior wing Chaunté McDowell, a Beckley native, scored the Spartans’ first five points and had nine of the 24.
“I’m from Beckley, so I want to beat them that much more,” McDowell said. “East expects a lot out of me. I did what I came to do, and I’m proud of my team.
Second-team all-stater Bianca André scored 11 first-quarter points and added another five as East continued to roll in the second half.
The Spartans had few problems with a Woodrow pressure defense that gave several good teams, including Class AAA No. 2 South Charleston, fits this season.
Justice said, “Between Anna (Hammaker), Chaunté, Liz (Romeo) and Bianca, it’s going to be really tough for teams to press us effectively.”
Woodrow trailed 35-22 at halftime despite controlling the boards behind posts Dawnsha Heath and Breanna Thompson.
“We had more rebounds, but we’re not as mentally or physically tough as we should be to compete on a level with Greenbrier East,” coach Bernie Bostick said. “The effort was there, but sometimes we don’t play really smart and at times we don’t play defense as well as we should.”
A 12-2 run to open the third quarter had East seemingly ready to put the game away. The lead was 18 points for much of the period, but Woodrow suddenly fought back.
Shaitece Trigg bombed a 3, and Thompson scored twice from outside and added a foul shot to cap a 9-2 run that made it 49-37.
East’s shooting had finally cooled off, but Woodrow failed to take advantage. The Flying Eagles missed 5 of 6 foul shots in the first 2 1/2 minutes.
Woodrow got the deficit down to nine points a couple of times, but a final East run, in which André, Cheyenne Hooper and Chloe Honaker made 4 of 6 free throws and Hammaker hit a drive, put the lead back out to 15, 64-49.
Woodrow hit some late baskets against the East subs to narrow the gap a final time.
Olivia Moore, plagued by foul trouble for much of the night, led the Flying Eagles with 13 points, eight rebounds and seven steals.
Alexis Allen added 12 points, five assists and three steals, while Heath had 11 points and a game-high 15 boards. Thompson tallied nine points and six rebounds.
Woodrow outrebounded East 52-35. Turnovers were nearly even, with the Eagles committing 23 to East’s 21.
“We should never let anyone score 50 points on us, but East is good,” Bostick said. “Right now they’re the best team in the state.”
It was Coaches for Cancer night. Bostick, who is battling prostate cancer, was pleased with the money raised for cancer research.
“We made a lot of money tonight for the American Cancer Society, so that was a win,” he said.
André had a solid night for the Spartans with 20 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and five assists.
“Bianca is going to hit her shots,” Justice said. “She looks like she’s in slow motion, but she’s always in the right place at the right time.”
McDowell had 14 points, all but two in the first half.
“Chaunté had a special game,” Justice said. “She wanted to badly.”
Hammaker added 12 points and four assists, and Hooper had 11 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.
East returns to action Wednesday, hosting Winfield. Woodrow plays Tuesday at Capital.
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Greenbrier East 65, Woodrow Wilson 55
Greenbrier East (14-0)
Elizabeth Romeo 1-5 0-0 2, Chaunté McDowell 4-8 4-6 14, Anna Hammaker 4-15 4-8 12, Bianca André 7-16 2-2 20, Cheyenne Hooper 5-7 1-2 11, Chloe Honaker 0-0 2-4 2, Nicole Fogus 0-0 0-0 0, Abby Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Cassie Ford 0-0 0-0 0, Tayler Dowdy 0-0 0-0 0, Maddee Carroll 2-2 0-0 4. Totals: 23-53 13-22 65.
Woodrow Wilson (7-4)
Olivia Moore 6-17 0-0 13, Sarah Akers 1-10, 0-0 2, Alexis Allen 5-17 2-3 12, Dawnsha Heath 4-6 3-8 11, Breanna Thompson 4-8 1-4 9, Shaitece Trigg 2-8 0-0 6, Kavita François 0-0 0-0 0, Deanna Thompson 0-1 0-0 0, Danielle Miller 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 23-70 6-15 55.
GE 24 11 14 16 — 65
WW 14 8 15 18 — 55
Three-point goals: GE: 6-23 (Romeo 0-4, McDowell 2-4, Hammaker 0-4, André 4-11); WW: 3-14 (Moore 1-5, Akers 0-1, Allen 0-4, Trigg 2-4). Fouled out: none.