PITCHFORKS IN HAND: Red Devils manhandle Maiden on the road; return home on Tuesday for contest against East Lincoln

Lady Red Devils’ senior Chyna Cornwell (54) and junior Grace Loftin (33) earn the collective block on Maiden’s Maggie Andrews (14) on Friday night. (Photo by Brian Hendrix)Lady Blue Devils’ senior point guard Gracie Arrowood (12) led her team in scoring with seven points in the home loss against Newton-Conover, 71-29, on Friday, January 17. (Photo by Brian Hendrix)Lady Red Devils' freshman point guard Cassidy Geddes (10) driving by Maiden's Cree Bass (32). Geddes finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists and 7 steals in the win. (Photo by Brian Hendrix)Red Devils’ junior guard Maverick Davis (3) goes for one of his five 3-pointers in the win over rival Maiden on Friday, January 17 at Maiden High School. (Photo by Brian Hendrix)Red Devils’ guard Trey Kennedy (12) goes up for a break-away layup in the victory over Maiden, 64-42, on Friday night. He collected nine points. (Photo by Brian Hendrix)
Marcus Smith
Sports Editor

Following a big 13-point win over East Lincoln, one of the top teams in the South Fork 2A Conference, last Tuesday, the Maiden Lady Blue Devils’ varsity basketball team looked to have repeat success on Friday against conference leader Newton-Conover.

However, home-court advantage didn’t help against this animal as the Lady Blue Devils (6-9, 4-2) were crushed by the Lady Red Devils, 71-29. This loss snapped Maiden's 4-game win streak while Newton-Conover continued its streak of five.

From the opening tip, the Lady Red Devils (13-2, 6-0) controlled the match-up and led 19-10 after the first quarter. It was a collective and well-rounded performance against Maiden, mostly dominated by star senior center Chyna Cornwell.

“You ask our team our first two goals, and we've said this since the first day last year. Our first goal is to become a team,” said Lady Red Devils' head coach Sylvia White. “That means to develop the people around you, make every person valuable to you when they're on the floor and then get better, and that's what's happening. We're starting to develop.

“Chyna's been a great player. Chyna was a great player before I ever became (the) coach, and she's going to be a great player long after she's with Sylvia White at Newton-Conover. But, the quality of our team is that she's learning to make people better around her and being unselfish, learning when to kick it out. She can probably go up against about any three players around, but it's not always the best shot. So, she's learning that we got other people on our team that can step up (and) make the basket (and) make it hard to double-team her, but that's why we're getting better as a team.”

As for the Lady Blue Devils, it just looked outmatched in almost every facet. In the first half, it was apparent it couldn’t move the ball and this lack of good ball movement did them in at the break. It trailed the Lady Red Devils, 34-18.

The only decent contribution in the first half offensively for Maiden came from forward Maggie Sigmon as she had a team-high four points heading into halftime. Senior forward Cree Bass and point guard Gracie Arrowood followed up with three points apiece.

Cornwell led both parties with 14 points, eight rebounds and one block.

Things didn’t go much better for the host-team in the second half, especially right out of the break.

The Lady Blue Devils would be out hustled on the glass in a big way as Cornwell and junior forward Grace Loftin cleaned up the boards with ease.

Loftin finished the contest with seven rebounds while Cornwell continued to feast with 22 total boards (14 offensive). Loftin also obtained nine points (including a trey), two assists and two steals.

Senior forward Jahlea Peters also got in on the blowout with five points, five boards, two assists and two steals. While, senior point guard Aaliah Walton connected on a pair of threes to go along with two assists and a rebound.

Because of her ability to get after it on the offensive glass, Cornwell garnered 38 points in a debilitating second half for the Lady Blue Devil defense. She also collected three blocks and two assists.

Nevertheless, everyone knows what Cornwell can do. A true spark, as well, came from Lady Red Devils’ freshman point guard Cassidy Geddes as she was active in every facet possible. At the half, Geddes earned 10 points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals.

Her activity only enhanced in the second half which nearly led her to obtain a triple-double. Geddes didn’t even play the last few minutes in the fourth quarter and she finished with 12 points (including a pair of three-pointers), five boards, eight assists and an amazing seven steals on the night.

“Not bad for a freshman,” said White jokingly. “Cassidy's been playing ball a good while and she's still making some freshman mistakes as to be expected, but she is really settled in probably the last two weeks, understanding the game, understanding her role. You know, when you're in middle school and playing with kids all your same age, you have a different role than playing with folks four and five years older than you.

“So, she's really adapting to that role. She's learning that her first goal is to play good defense and get us in the offense. Those are two things that she's really starting to do.”

The lack of consistent ball movement for Maiden, as well as its lack of size, led for some quick turnovers that resulted in Newton-Conover cashing in on offense. Arrowood led her team in scoring with seven points (including a three-pointer) while Sigmon finished with six.

To finish the contest, the Lady Blue Devils only scored 11 points in the second half (six from the second to the third quarter and five from the third to the fourth quarter). The Lady Red Devils went on an 18-5 run in the final quarter.

“It's a little different basketball game (than against East Lincoln),” said Lady Blue Devils' head coach Frank Snider. “We know we got to keep the ball out of the middle. Then, on top of that, we felt like 'when you do that, you have to give up something.' We gave up some of those three-pointers early in the first quarter, first half. They shot it in. When they shoot it in from the outside, they're awfully potent...More than anything, we were really impatient on offense.

“I think we let, you know, their size dictate what we did sometimes on offense and that's what we can't do. I thought we were very poor with our execution on offense. We were okay early in the game. After that, we just backed off and didn't attack the basket. (We) didn't get shots we needed to get and it can get ugly when that happens...We didn't do a good job blocking out. We didn't work real hard at it either.”

Next up on deck for the Lady Blue Devils is a road match-up in conference action against Lincolnton on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

As for the Lady Red Devils, it will return home for a collision with a Brianna Tadlock-led offense as it battles East Lincoln (11-5, 5-1) on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. Like this past week, South Fork 2A Conference implications will at the forefront. With an East Lincoln win, it would tie again with Newton-Conover for first place.

The Lady Mustangs are coming off of back-to-back victories over West Lincoln, 73-25, on Friday and Kings Mountain on Saturday, 61-41. In the win over the Lady Rebels on Friday night, Tadlock led her team with 17 points on a 67 percent clip and two blocks followed by Sara Rhoney's 13 points (including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc).


Newton-Conover 64, Maiden 42

The Maiden Blue Devils (6-9, 2-4) did its best on Friday night to give Newton-Conover (10-6, 4-2) a run for its money in front of its home crowd at Maiden High School to no avail, falling 64-42.

The first quarter would be as close as it would be as the Blue Devils trailed, 12-10, going into the second quarter. It actually had a 10-9 lead but in the final seconds Red Devils' sharpshooter Jackson Mullins knocked down a buzzer-beating three to move out in front.

Without starting seniors Mathew Martinez and Jaheim McCathern in the line-up in the first half, the Red Devils made up for it as the duo of Mullins and junior guard Maverick Davis couldn't be contained from the beyond the arc.

The pair did their best impression of the Golden State Warriors' 'Splash Brothers' (Steph Curry and Klay Thompson) as they connected on three-pointer after three-pointer.

The duo obtained nine threes collectively. Mullins dominated that area in the first half as he finished the game with 14 points (including four treys) and Davis picked it up in the second half to garner a game-high 17 points (including five three-pointers with his last two coming in the fourth quarter).

The Red Devils went on a 20-2 run going into the break as it led, 32-12. The only score in the second quarter for the Blue Devils came from senior Reilley Copeland as he tied it up early at 12-all.

Blue Devils' junior guard Elijah Fowler was the only player to convert a three-pointer (coming in the first quarter to give his squad the 6-5 lead, at the time).

For most of the first half, though, there was no breakout player for the Blue Devils. However, in the third quarter, senior Brennan James carried the team on his back with 13 points (all in the second half). Seven of his points came in the third and five of his total came at the charity stripe.

Maiden's Dru McClough was the only other double-digit scorer with 11 points.

The Blue Devils' next contest is on the road against Lincolnton (6-9, 2-4) on Tuesday while Newton-Conover faces a hot three-point shooting team in East Lincoln at Newton-Conover High School at approximately 8 p.m. The Mustangs come into Tuesday's match-up with the Red Devils breaking program three-point records.

East Lincoln (13-3, 5-1) set the program with most threes in a game at 15 on Thursday, January 9, in an 86-54 win over South Iredell before breaking that same record only nine days later with 16 in a victory over Kings Mountain on Saturday, 104-65.

The Mustangs shot a 50 percent clip from beyond the arc against Kings Mountain (16-of-31). Evan Montanari and Justin Kuthan led the way with 27 and 26 points, respectively. Montanari converted on seven of the team's 16 three-pointers. Guard Myles Adams followed up with 16 points and five assists while Jeremiah Jones earned nine points, 10 assists and four steals.

So, on Tuesday, it will be 'Splash City' between East Lincoln and Newton-Conover.