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Spartan girls down South Rowan

South Rowan’s 75-52 loss to Central Davidson’s girls on Thursday actually left South coach Jarrod Smith full of Christmas cheer.

That’s because Central had leveled and disheveled the Raiders 75-28 two weeks earlier.

“They got a lot better or we got a lot worse,” is how Central coach Kevin Hudson put it.

Smith believes it was a case of the Raiders improving, and he’s probably right.

Central (6-2) trapped well and shot well, but South used 22 points by Cassidy Chipman and 21 by Avery Locklear to make it a reasonably competitive game.

South (3-6) is basically a sophomore team, and Central has five seniors, including four that play a lot of minutes.

The point at which all that Central experience showed  was the second quarter.

When Locklear scored off a dish from Sylvetta Bost, it was a 16-all game, but Central outscored South 19-3 the rest of the first half and the Spartans closed with a blistering 13-0 run to lead 35-19 at the break.

Senior Paige Chavis started that decisive burst with a nice drive, and her younger sister, freshman Jordan Chavis, finished it with a 3-pointer. In between, Chandler Young, another senior, made three layups.

“We’re having a very good defensive year,” Central senior McKenzie Burkhart explained. “During that good stretch, we started talking better and we were getting layups off our defense.”

Take away that dominating second quarter and Central wins 53-47. That explains why Smith was encouraged.

“For about six minutes in the second quarter, we stopped getting back on defense,” he  said. “But we can be very proud of the other 26 minutes. That was our best 26 minutes of the year, and we did it against a very good team. They’re solid.”

Paige Chavis and Burkhart scored Central’s first 16 points, but in the second quarter they started getting some help.

Locklear had a school-record 43-point game earlier this season, but Central’s defense held her to two points in that decisive second quarter.

“She’s a really good driver and penetrator,” said Burkhart, who defended her most of the time. “I just stayed low and tried to move my feet to stay in front of her.”

Central did a good job of forcing Locklear to her left, but she went 7-for-8 at the foul line and scored her share. Chipman hit the boards hard until she fouled out. She got nine points on free throws.

“When South played us the first time, we pretty much snuffed them,” Hudson said. “We executed our offense very well tonight, but South attacked us a lot more. They were a lot more aggressive and they hurt us on the offensive boards early in the game.”

Central sewed up the game in the third quarter on a sudden burst of eight points, including two 3s, by senior Skyler Briggs and back-to-back steals and layins by Burkhart.