Northwestern improved to 7-1 on Monday with a 49-33 wire-to-wire win over Boiling Springs in the second round of the Y.C. Winborn Holiday Classic at Rock Hill High School.
Northwestern forced six turnovers in the first four minutes of action. The defense led the Lady Trojans out to an early 8-0 lead. Kelia Shelton scored on two layups on her way to a game-best 21 points. Bailey Shugart and Amber Stewart also scored as a result of steals.
Shelton scored eight points in the first quarter and had 15 by the half. Northwestern will take on Strom Thurmond at 6 p.m. today in the championship game that will feature two of the state's top scoring guards -- Shelton and Strom Thurmond's Courtney Mealing.
It was Northwestern's third win of the year over Boiling Springs. The first game was close until the last three minutes. The Lady Bulldogs used a box-and-1 defense in an attempt to keep Shelton in check.
Sophomore point guard Xy'Resha Isom altered the second game. She scored the first seven points to start the game and force Boiling Springs out of its game plan.
This one wasn't close. Northwestern led by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter.
"Our defense is pretty good," Northwestern coach John Bramlett said of his team after they forced nine first-quarter turnovers and more than 20 in the game.
With a big lead, Bramlett was able to get all his players into the game. Shelton played a little more than two quarters. Destiny McClenningham scored four points and added four rebounds off the bench as 10 players scored.
Senior guard Deshana Foster got a lot of floor time to work on her shot. "We are going to need her when the region starts," Bramlett said.
The 7-1 start is the best in years for Northwestern.
• STROM THURMOND 55, ROCK HILL 34 -- Strom Thurmond's Courtney Mealing scored 31 points and the Rebels cruised into the Winborn Classic final with a win over Rock Hill.
Maggie Rogers led the Bearcats (5-4) with a career-high 18 points and nine rebounds.
The game was all about Mealing, who scored 38 in the Rebels' first-round win over Myers Park. Coach Jessica Parker was a little nervous when her starting guard fell to the floor clutching her left knee in the first quarter.
Mealing came out of the game and sat next to her coach on the bench. Two minutes ran off the clock before Mealing, after testing her leg, was ready to re-enter.
She proceeded to score 16 of the Rebels' next 18 points to lead Strom Thurmond to a 21-point lead. The Rebels led 38-13 at the half.
Rock Hill coach Eric Rollings knew his team would have their hands full trying to stop Mealing. She came into the tournament averaging more than 30 points per game.
"We just didn't have it tonight. This is our third game in four nights. It is an excuse, but maybe our legs are worn out," Rollings said. "It wasn't an offense or defense thing, we just didn't have the effort."
Rock Hill missed its first 15 free throws and finished just 5-of-22 from the stripe. The Bearcats will play Boiling Springs at 2 p.m. today in the third-place game of the tournament
The Rebels (7-1) are a class AA school from Edgefield. They will take on Northwestern (7-1) at 6 p.m. in the championship game.
Strom Thurmond's only loss was a five-point setback to Silver Bluff. Since then, the Rebels have won six in a row.
Mealing had 23 points in the first half. Rock Hill double-teamed her throughout the second half. She finished 14-of-34 from the floor but added 11 rebounds.
Parker, a former point guard in college, has been working with Mealing on getting her team more involved.
Mealing is sorting through offers from several colleges, including Radford, USC-Aiken, Augusta State, Jacksonville State and Delaware State.
• ROCK HILL 78, INDIAN LAND 62 -- Rock Hill went on a 13-4 run to open the fourth quarter. It was enough to put away Indian Land and advance to the finals.
Jatavius Stewart led the way for Rock Hill (3-3) with a game-high 27 points. Center Colby Niven added 20 points and Gerius Jones 12 for the Bearcats.
The point totals were career bests for Stewart and Niven.
Rock Hill will play at 8 p.m. against Dreher in the championship game.
Indian Land (2-5) has played a rugged schedule all against larger schools. Point guard Terrell Rogers led the Warriors with 14 points. Keyadd Miller added 10 and Trey Miller drained three 3-pointers to finish with nine points.
"They are going to knock someone off. I'm just glad it wasn't us," Rock Hill coach Bobby Stevens said after the game.
Indian Land coach Nate Smith wasn't happy with the way his team performed. The Warriors have wins against Nation Ford and Andrew Jackson this season.
"We just didn't come out to play tonight. One thing I won't get caught up in is Class A or Class AAAA. We play in one of the toughest regions. We just have to learn to be consistent," Smith said.
Rock Hill took a 24-14 lead in the second quarter after an 11-0 run. But Indian Land fought back by scoring the final five points of the half to trail 34-30.
Stewart got hot after the intermission. He scored 20 second-half points, including six in an 11-4 spurt to start the third quarter. He added eight points in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter.
Rock Hill led by as many as 19 points in the final period when Stewart scored in the paint and then hit a free throw to complete a three-point play.