By RYAN HERMAN
VALE –– Saylor Whitesides struggled with her shot for much of the game at West Lincoln, but like any good shooter she kept shooting.
The shots eventually started falling, and once they did they didn’t stop.
The county’s leading scorer in girls basketball dropped 26 points, 19 in the fourth quarter following a dismal first half for both her and her team and Lincolnton rallied to down the Rebels 41-35 in its Southern District 7 Athletic 2A Conference opener on Friday.
Whitesides made her first shot, a layup which gave the Wolves (3-2, 1-0) a 2-0 lead early. But the freshman point guard missed her next 11 as Lincolnton fell behind by as many as 13.
Whitesides’ short jumper with 6:04 to play was her second made field goal of the night, and made it a three-possession game at 27-20. The bucket began a streak of five straight layups in as many possessions as Lincolnton outscored West Lincoln (4-5, 0-2) 23-8 in the fourth quarter after trailing 23-10 early in the second half.
Whitesides, who was averaging a county-best 17 points per game going in, finished 7 for 19 from the field, and hit 12 of her 17 free throws –– 7 of 8 in the fourth quarter.
While Whitesides –– and the rest of her teammates –– struggled from the field early, West Lincoln took advantage.
Heather Truesdale scored a season-high 16 points, 10 in the first half and all from the free throw line as the Rebels built a 21-10 lead at the break.
West Lincoln didn’t fare much better from the floor early –– it was 1 of 11 in the first quarter –– but hit four of its six shot attempts in the second quarter, including a 3 by Erin Huff.
Madison Ferguson (10 points, nine rebounds) put the Rebels up 23-10 with a pick-and-roll assist from Amanda Ritch to start the second half, but from then on the shots stopped falling.
After Ferguson’s layup West Lincoln hit just two more field goals in 19 attempts.
The Wolves also dominated the glass, especially on the offensive end. Lincolnton outrebounded West Lincoln 42-30, including a 19-10 edge in offensive rebounds.
The Wolves’ hoarding of missed shots came from two girls –– Myrical DeLacy-James had 20 rebounds, 11 offensive, and Jasmine Vilorio had nine boards.
Thirteen of Truesdale’s 16 points came from the charity stripe, where she hit her first 10. She had West Lincoln’s lone field goal in the final period –– a 3-pointer after Lincolnton had taken the lead for good.
WEST LINCOLN 63
In a similar script, Will Saine scored a season-high 36 points, 22 in the second half, as Lincolnton’s boys also had to rally for the win.
The Wolves (3-2, 1-0) took control by outscoring the Rebels (0-9, 0-2) 19-10 in the second quarter after trailing 36-32 at the break.
Quinlyn Harris added 17 points for Lincolnton. Both of his 3-pointers gave the Wolves the lead, the last for good at 61-60 with 2:51 to play.
Alex Rhyne added 10 points and nine rebounds for Lincolnton.
West Lincoln had four in double figures –– Samuel Redding had 12, Harry Huddleston 11, Todric Anderson 11 and Luke Webb 10. Redding also had 10 rebounds.
A 3 by Dylan Frady (nine points on three 3s) pulled the Rebels within one at 64-63 with 1:22 left. Back-to-back turnovers by each team followed, then Saine hit a layup to make it 66-63 with 50 seconds to go.
Anderson missed a 3 on West Lincoln’s next possession, and its last good look was blocked by Colby Pridmore.