Rockets blast past Red Wolves in season opener

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Person left Cedar Ridge Tuesday night with a 52-11 win in a season opener that saw all but two Rockets score in the contest. The Person High School women’s basketball team traveled to Hillsborough on Tuesday night, as they took on Cedar Ridge for their season opener. In the first quarter, the Rockets outscored the Red Wolves 15-2. Cedar Ridge played much better in the second quarter, scoring seven points, but Person played even better, scoring 18 of their own. Person only scored 10 points in the third quarter, but limited Cedar Ridge to one point, and scored nine points in the fourth quarter while limiting Cedar Ridge to one point.

“It was a great start for us,” said Jay Carmichael, head women’s basketball coach at Person High School. “I was happiest about our defense. We started off in man defense. While we didn’t win the jump ball, we ran a good set off the opening tip, and forced Cedar Ridge to take a bad shot. This is the area I feel is crucial for next-level defense.”

Although the Rockets outscored the Red Wolves by 41 in this game, they initially went down 2-0 by allowing Cedar Ridge to grab an offensive rebound.

“That was a bad play for us in the game,” said Carmichael.” “After that, we tightened up and didn’t give up much at all. We defended and rebounded well for the rest of the game.”

While Carmichael was pleased with his team’s defense, the offense was certainly there for the Rockets, too, as Nydriya Marner led a balanced scoring attack with 11 points. Kelcey Mangum recorded 10 points, Jewel Holloway dropped eight points, Alexzia Thompson notched seven, Kayleigh Clarke tallied five, Karter Hawkins added four, Aaliyah Williams scored three, while Madison Dunkley and Gabby Jones contributed two points apiece to round out the scoring.

“I’ve known Marner since she was a third grader,” said Carmichael. “She’s like my basketball daughter. Last night, I complemented her because she showed so much leadership. She has been our scoring leader all the way through. She has tremendous offensive and defensive abilities. She understands other girls on the team can score, and is willing to not carry the offensive load.”

“The game boiled down to defense, which is our offense,” said Carmichael. “If you go back and look at the game, we got a lot of steals and put a lot of pressure on the ball. Especially in that big second quarter, we got a lot of steals and were out running in the fast break. When Cedar Ridge did get back in their defense, we couldn’t score in our primary or secondary break. We were able to recognize that, and ran some offense through our plays.”

As the Rockets prepared for their opening game of the Courier-Times Classic yesterday against Ocracoke High School, Carmichael said that the focus of his defense would be man-to-man.

“We ran some man-to-man last night, and we also ran some 2-3 zone. Cedar Ridge had trouble with our man defense. If players know man defense, they’ll take that knowledge into whatever defense we’re running. We have good presses that we’d like to work on. As we move forward, we’ll add defensive steps, working from our half-court traps and presses to three-quarter traps and full-court presses.”

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