Ten area teams squared off Friday in the first day of the two-day girls basketball South Mecklenburg New Year’s Classic.
In the Friday finale, youth provided the highlights for both teams as the Rocky River Ravens (11-2) held off the West Charlotte Lions 56-49. Rocky River sophomore Ariana Nance scored a game-high 29 points, including a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Tanaeschia Dorsey also chipped in 11 for the Ravens.
Freshman O’Marri Holland led West Charlotte with 20 points with senior Jessica Gaston pouring in 19.
“I was very, very proud of Ariana,” said Rocky River coach Epiphany Woodson. “She’s a player who has a lot of heart; she loves the game of basketball and she’s always ready to play.”
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“I talked to her before the game tonight and I told her it’s time for her to step her game up a notch. It’s time for her to take over games, take control, talk to her teammates and make the team go as she goes. That’s exactly what she came out and did.”
After the teams tied at 16 after the first quarter, the Ravens led 31-27 at the half largely due to Nance’s 10 second-quarter points. Midway through the final quarter Rocky River built a 12-point advantage. But the Lions (6-8) made a late run and cut the Ravens lead to four with 25 seconds left.
“We’ve got to pick it up; keep our head on our shoulders and keep playing hard,” said Nance when asked what Woodson told the Ravens on how to respond to the Lions late run.” Nance’s four free throws in the final minute enabled Rocky River to thwart the West Charlotte rally and hang on for the win.
Despite the loss, Lions coach Reggie Mobley was beaming over the play of Holland. “She’s a freshman sensation,” he said. “She controls the floor, attacks the basket well and she’s a true leader in her own regard.”
Saturday’s schedule begins at noon and concludes with the classic finale at 6:00 p.m. featuring South Mecklenburg and Garinger.
WEST CHARLOTTE: O’marri Holland 20, Jessica Gaston 17, Best 5, Donaldson 3, Davis
2, Nesbit 2.
ROCKY RIVER: Ariana Nance 29, Tanaeschia Dorsey 11, Keyes 6, Harvey 5, Whitley 4,