Led by Lariyah Clark’s 26 points, West Iredell (11-12, 5-8) picked up an important Northwestern Foothills Conference win over Draughn (10-13, 6-7), 60-49 on Tuesday night.
On West Iredell’s senior night, the sophomore Clark enjoyed a triumphant return from injury, scoring 18 of her 26 points in the first half. Her performance helped the Warriors jump out to a 36-20 halftime lead.
“It was an opportunity to get back on the floor after she played very sparingly against West Caldwell Friday night,” West Iredell head coach David Parsons said of Clark. “To play with the confidence she did after coming off an injury was excellent. When she plays like she did tonight she is the best player in this county.”
It was more of the same for Clark and the Warriors in the third quarter. Using a suffocating defense, West Iredell jumped out to a 47-22 lead with 3:39 left in the third quarter.
Draughn did not go away quietly. The Wildcats ended the third quarter on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 18. They extended that run into the fourth quarter and pulled to within 10 points with 2:51 left.
But a Clark bucket with 1:56 left gave the Warriors a 12-point lead and after a defensive stop, West Iredell used key free throws from Clark and Abby Goins to shut the door on any Draughn comeback.
Parsons said the Warriors had been struggling with rebounding and free throws recently, but the Warriors used both of those to their advantage and in the process kept West Iredell in the playoff hunt.
“We knew that senior night was going to be important not only for these girls that have worked so hard for this program, but to also get us back in the playoff hunt,” Parsons said. “From top to bottom, one through ten, these girls delivered. I am proud of how we answered the bell.”
Next, the Warriors host conference leader East Burke. The Cavaliers are ranked No. 4 in 2A.
Parsons said for the Warriors to continue to be successful and to make a run at the playoffs they must keep their identity.
“I think we remembered who we are tonight,” Parsons said. “We remembered how defense creates our offense, how when we dominate boards, we can get runouts. If we can do that moving forward, we are going to be difficult to scout against. We play our best basketball when no one cares about who gets the credit. That’s Warrior basketball.”
West Iredell boys fall despite Kitchens’ 25 points
West Iredell fell behind early and were unable to dig themselves out of the hole in a 69-58 loss to Draughn on senior night.
Leading 22-18 at the end of the first, Draughn came out of the gates hot in the second quarter, extending their lead to 32-20 with 4:03 left in the quarter.
The Wildcats held serve for much of the game, leading 44-33 at halftime and 58-44 at the end of the third.
West Iredell fought back, opening the third quarter on a quick 5-0 spurt to trim the lead to nine.
But costly turnovers on consecutive possessions saw the Warriors momentum sputter and the Wildcats lead extend to 64-49.
The Warriors used one more 9-2 run to close the deficit to eight with 2:17 left but were unable to capitalize on missed free throws by Draughn in the game’s closing moments.
Senior Gabriel Kitchens led the Warriors with 25 points. Denver Treadway led the Wildcats with 24.
West Iredell 60, Draughn 49
DRAUGHN (49):Abernathy 22, Parker 9, K. Kincaid 6, Lowman 5, H. Kincaid 4, Owens 2, Shaping 1.
WEST IREDELL (60): Clark 26, Goins 12, Heaggens 11, Pendergrass 7, Waugh 3, England 1.
Draughn 69, West Iredell 58
DRAUGHN (69): Treadway 24, Walker 19, D. Pritchard 9, Chrisco 8, Cox 6, Byrd 3.
WEST IREDELL(58): G. Kitchens 25, Grissom 11, Williams 8, Johnson 6, E. Kitchens 6, Burke 2.