By Carey Phillips
Erwin rolled past injury-riddled Smoky Mountain 66-35 in non-conference women’s basketball action Jan. 3 at Erwin.
Sanaii Pearcy and Landre Dingman led a balanced scoring attack for the Lady Warriors with 11 points apiece, and Teasia Hines added 10.
Xaila Spencer and Suzannah Raynor topped the Lady Mustangs with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
With starters Aiden Nicholson (ankle) and Triniti Littlejohn (shoulder) and reserve Kaitlyn Tahquette (knee) out with injuries and Becca Corona-Smith (thumb) having her playing time limited, Coach Ollin Dunford brought up five JVs to fill out the roster. One of those, Kailey Broom, started and played much of the game.
“I did what I had to do because I needed help,” Dunford said of bringing up the JVs. “Injuries have taken a toll on us. I still didn’t feel the outcome was going to be like that, but you never know until you’re in it.”
He said Erwin shot the ball “extremely well” and noted that Greenlee Flynn got in early foul trouble, which hurt the rebounding effort.
“After a while we had nothing for them,” he said.
SM didn’t make a field goal until the first quarter’s final second and had just three shots from the floor in the first half.
The Lady Mustangs’ only lead came when Flynn opened the scoring with two free throws.
The Lady Warriors went on a 12-1 run, including a pair of three-pointers by Dingman, for a 12-3 lead with 56 seconds on the clock.
Raynor’s follow shot beat the buzzer leaving the Lady Mustangs down 14-7. It was their first field goal of the game.
Erwin broke the game open with 17 consecutive points, including five each by Dingman, Mia King and Hailey Shackelford, for a 36-9 lead with 48 seconds to play in the half, which ended 36-12.
The Lady Warriors opened a 30-point lead at 45-15 after Arie Cartledge-Smith’s layup at the midpoint of the third quarter.
Erwin was up 50-24 entering the fourth period, and the final represented the game’s largest lead.
Spencer made three field goals, including a three-pointer, and four foul shots. Raynor hit four field goals and was two of two from the line.
Flynn finished with seven points, Broom scored four, Alli Fortner had two and Corona-Smith made a free throw.
The Lady Warriors took control in the second half to win the JV game 59-25. They led at quarter breaks by scores of 10-6, 23-17 and 44-25.
Kaylie Parris led SM with 10 points.
“We have to adjust, and we’re trying to figure out playing time and what our groupings are going to be,” Coach Jason Melvin said of having the players called up to the varsity. “I thought the key was we got beat getting back. We got outhustled. Erwin hit some shots that you thought might not go in, but we gave them opportunities and that’s on us. Overall we played scared. When they started putting some pressure on us we stopped competing.”
He singled out Ali Klaire Nicholson for her performance.
“She played an amazing game,” Melvin said. “She was rebounding and working hard.”