WENDELL — There was a reason junior forward Kianna Wynn smiled more and more the further East Wake got into its game against Clayton on Friday.
She and her teammates were experiencing a strong week of practice paying off as they overwhelmed the Comets 52-17.
“Practices have been really good all week and our defense has improved a lot our last couple games,” Wynn said. “I love to see our team work together.”
The win improved East Wake to 18-2 overall and 10-1 in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference, while Clayton slid to 14-6, 5-5.
East Wake’s offense shined early and its defense shined late.
Wynn scored 8 of her game-high 17 points in the first quarter, helping the Warriors to a 12-4 lead. Sophomore forward Angel Rizor, second in scoring for East Wake with 12 points, cashed in on three free throws after a technical foul called against the Clayton bench. It gave East Wake a 27-11 lead with two minutes left in the first half.
Clayton coach Marlon Lee said turnovers were largely responsible for his team falling behind early. Handouts continued to haunt the Comets as they played from behind the rest of the game.
“Any time you turn the ball over, a good team like (East Wake) is going to capitalize off of them,” Lee said. “That’s pretty much been how our losses have been all year. We get down and we have to fight so hard to come back.
“Give (East Wake) credit, but I’m real disappointed in us because this is not how we play. Turnover after turnover and missed defensive assignments – more turnovers than we had points.”
The Warriors held the Comets to 2 points in each of the third and fourth quarters, and shut down Clayton scoring leader Taisha Murphy (19.4 points per game) in the second half. Murphy got all of her team-high 5 points in the second quarter.
“I thought our defense was pretty good stopping penetration and stopping Taisha from scoring,” East Wake coach Toni Vick said. “Everybody played a big role and was mentally into the game. The girls had the momentum and they just played basketball.”
The outcome was considerably different than the teams’ first clash of the season, which East Wake won by 8 points on Jan. 7.
Lee said the difference was his players were too impatient with the ball on Friday, often trying to force plays when they weren’t there.
“Whenever our offense isn’t running, we get so quick on trying to make it happen and aren’t patient enough,” Lee said. “We couldn’t get patient tonight because we kept throwing the ball away on the first option.
“We’re going back to the drawing board. We’ve got three games next week, so we’ve got to put this one behind us.”
Moody: 919-829-4806; Twitter: @easternwakenews