The girls championship game of the Y.C. Winborn basketball tournament saw Northwestern square off against Strom Thurmond in a contest that showcased two scoring machines with the Lady Rebels' Courtney Mealing and the Trojans' Kelia Shelton.
While the focus was on the offensive productivity of both players, Northwestern used its team defense to cruise to the tournament title with a convincing 58-32 victory at the Rock Hill High School gymnasium on Tuesday.
Both players lived up to the hype as Mealing carried her team's offensive load with 22 points while Shelton was 10 points better with 32.
"Our defense kick-started everything for us offensively," Lady Trojan coach John Bramlett said. "When we guard and defend, then we will always have a chance at victory.
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"We played a little 1-3-1 trap, but mostly relied on man-to-man defense in the half-court. Whenever we defend, that is always going to keep us in the game."
The Lady Trojans, 9-1 overall, started a bit slow with a 10-6 first-quarter deficit.
But then, Northwestern began to shift gears offensively in the second quarter by increasing its defensive intensity. That forced several Lady Rebel turnovers, which Northwestern capitalized with a 19-8 run and 25-18 half-time lead.
Shelton, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, was in an offensive zone with 13 points in the quarter.
The Lady Trojan momentum carried over into the second half as the margin increased to 11, 37-26.
The fourth quarter featured more Northwestern dominance as Strom Thurmond could only generate six points as the Lady Trojans pulled away down the stretch and eventually built the lead above the 20-point margin.
Shelton said that her dominating performance was the result of solid team play, particularly on the defensive end.
"My teammates got the ball to me on fast-break opportunities and after making steals on defense," Shelton said. "The MVP is nice, but the team's victory is what matters the most."
"This gives us plenty of momentum," heading into Region 3-AAAA play after the holidays," Shelton said. "But winning the MVP is an honor. There were 24 girls out there on two good teams, and to be chosen as the MVP is an honor."
S. Thurmond 10 8 8 6 -- 32
Northwestern 6 19 14 19 -- 58
Boiling Springs 10 7 14 17 -- 49
Rock Hill 11 13 14 15 -- 53
• CHAPIN 45, CLOVER 23 -- Clover finished in fifth place in the Shootout by the Sea tournament in Myrtle Beach. Stephanie Dover scored eight points in the loss and was named to the all-tournament team.
Chapin 10 13 5 17 -- 45
Clover 5 3 10 5 -- 23