It took West Wilkes a little while to get going Tuesday night in Millers Creek.
But once the Blackhawks got on roll, they were more than enough for a visiting North Iredell squad looking for its first win of the season.
Led by 14 points from sophomore Carson Ledford the Hawks took flight in the second half to post a 40-30 nonconference win over the Raiders.
West Wilkes actually trailed at the half, 18-17, as late free throws from North Iredell’s Lily Ward gave the visitors hope at the break.
But the Blackhawks responded with a heightened defensive effort in the final two periods of play, bolstered by a stingy full-court press that the Raiders had a tough time handling.
It was enough to help the home team stay perfect on the winter, now with a 3-0 mark heading into Thanksgiving break. But it wasn’t easy, especially when factoring in the slow start.
“It’s tough to play when you aren’t in school,” said West Wilkes Head Coach Allie Greene, “and I think getting out of your routine hurts you as a team. We saw that in the first half. We weren’t on our game defensively, we didn’t have the ball pressure we wanted, and so we struggled.”
The second quarter was especially problematic for West Wilkes. The Blackhawks didn’t make a single field goal in that frame, scoring only four points on free throws.
“But we stepped it up on the defensive side of the court in the second half,” continued Greene. “We finally put pressure on the ball, and that either directly led to turnovers or it led to tougher passes that we get our hands on. And turnovers leads to points.”
In fact, the Blackhawks held the Raiders to a mere five points in the third quarter. Meanwhile, the Hawks found a rhythm and scored 12 third-quarter points to grab a 29-23 advantage after three complete.
Balance was a big reason for West’s third-period success. Six different players scored at least a basket, including Skylar McPherson, who drilled a two-point jumper from the left wing as time expired in the frame.
But the big night offensively belonged to Ledford, the only player on either side to crack double digits.
“She took it to the hole,” smiled Greene afterwards. “She got some good drives to fall, and she worked to get some put backs as well. Carson is a player who can definitely hit the outside shot, but tonight we saw her attack the basket, and as a result good things happened.”
One shot the Blackhawks struggled with all night long — and a shot that could’ve erased all doubt earlier in the evening — was the free throw, despite nailing four in the second quarter. West Wilkes only hit 22 percent of its chances from the charity stripe, while the Raiders were able to use 12 made free throws to stay close.
“They just didn’t go in. We unfortunately left a lot of points on the line tonight and that’s something we all have to be better at,” said Greene.
North Iredell fell to 0-3. Skylin Guill led the visitors with eight points and Erica Myers added seven. North Iredell was unable to connect on a single three-point basket Tuesday, as West Wilkes did a good job closing out on perimeter shooters.
Jamilyn Wilcox and Parker Childress added seven points each to help supplement Ledford. Childress, a freshman, scored the only long-distance shot of the contest in the first period of play.
Both schools will enjoy the next six days off from scheduled games before heading to a rematch next Tuesday in Olin.