Saturday, March 14, 2009

Salisbury's defense, Phifer's scoring, key rally for 2A girls title

By Langston Wertz Jr.

CHAPEL HILL – Two years ago, Salisbury High girls coach Andrew Mitchell didn’t have a job. Saturday, after his team rallied for a 56-41 win over Graham, Mitchell was celebrating his first N.C. 2A championship.

“I didn’t know if I’d get back into coaching again,” Mitchell said, “and here we are winning a state championship game. To that, I say, ‘God is truly good.’”

Mitchell was an assistant under Steve Joyner at J.C. Smith from 1989-94 and was head women’s coach at Livingstone for 13 years. Before he took over at Salisbury, he spent a season with Kentucky State as an assistant.

Saturday in Chapel Hill, Mitchell found his team down six points at halftime. In the locker room, he told the Hornets they had to stop Graham’s Kiandria Allen, who scored 15 points in the first half as her team took a 28-22 lead.

Championship MVP Shanequa Phifer nearly knocked Mitchell down volunteering for the assignment.

“When she decided she wanted to do that,” Mitchell said, “she was the difference in the ballgame.”

Phifer, a 5-6 junior, had struggled with her game, shooting 2-24 in two regional games last week in Greensboro. At halftime Saturday, she was 1-for-3 with 3 points.

“In the first half, my shots weren’t falling,” she said, “but after halftime, I was hyped to go into the third quarter. I felt like it was a brand new game.”

Graham’s Allen scored two points in the second half. Graham shot 28 percent in the second half, scored only 16 points and lost in the finals for the third year in a row. Phifer broke open a tight game with seven straight points at the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter. She finished with 15 points and three rebounds.

“We wanted to make sure these seniors walked out of here with something,” Phifer said. “I’m estatic we won.”

Said teammate De’Rya Wylie, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds: “I can’t even speak right now. It’s that important to me. Everybody chipped in and it’s amazing. It’s all you can say.”

Salisbury 9 13 16 18 – 56

Graham 5 20 8 8 – 41

SALISBURY 56 – Ashia Holmes 8, Shanequa Phifer 15, Shipp 5, Ayanna Holmes 1, De’Rya Wylie 10, Young 1, Rice 9, Miller 2, Kreneshia Phifer 4, Helig 1

GRAHAM 41 – Enoch 2, Kiandra Allen 17, Apple 3, Beth Miller 13, Miles 4, Lea 2


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