Stokes guides the Vikings past Bruins
By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
PLYMOUTH — If Plymouth fans didn’t know how much point guard Sakina Brown meant to the Vikings, they certainly do now.
After jumping out to a 25-8 lead over Camden in the first quarter of the NCHSAA Class 1-A state tournament on Tuesday, Brown sprained her ankle midway through the second, leaving Plymouth without its primary ball handler and defensive leader for the rest of the game.
From that point on, the Vikings tallied only 34 points; however, it was enough to top the Bruins 57-44.
Without its second scoring option, Plymouth star guard Whitney Stokes had even more weight on her shoulders as she had to carry the Vikings’ offense for the remaining three quarters.
Stokes proved her shoulders were broad as she responded with a 41-point effort, which included a dynamic clutch performance in the fourth quarter where she poured in 13 points.
Ulysses Hooker said he was happy that his No. 1 seeded Vikings (17-2) were able to walk away with a win over the third-seeded Bruins (5-20).
Though the final score may indicate a 13-point loss, the Bruins played Plymouth close on Tuesday as well.
After looking like they were ready to pack it in after a poor first quarter, Camden showed some resiliency and bounced back to out-score Plymouth 23-18 over the next two quarters.
Camden center Adelle Drahos had a monstrous night in the paint, easily nabbing over 10 boards while putting up 10 points.
Guard Crystal Wilson hurt the Vikings from downtown where she scored most of her team-high 13 points for the Bruins.
While Camden got some nice performances from its key players, there is no doubt their second and third quarter runs were due in large to Brown being out of the game.
With Brown on the court, Plymouth’s press was devastating. The Vikings shut down the passing lanes, forcing Camden into throwing more interceptions than Rex Grossman.
That all changed once Brown hurt her ankle. Plymouth backed out of using its press and was forced to score out of its halfcourt offense where it’s not as effective.
Filling in for Brown at the helm was Alexis Sutton, who did a fair job running the team, as well as Stokes.
Hooker said that if Brown can’t play in Thursday’s game against Southeast Halifax (14-8), a 53-43 winner over Roanoke, he might consider getting more scoring from post players Ashley Dance and Khadija Young.
Dance and Young have been unsung heroes all season long, doing all the work that hardly ever shows up on the stat sheet, but is necessary to win.
Most of their contributions have been on the defensive end where they work the back end of the press, and underneath the basket where there battle for boards.
Hooker said he’s not sure how serious Brown’s injury is, but said he knows it will be tough to keep her out of the game.
NCHSAA Class 1-A State Playoffs
Camden 8 9 14 13 — 44
Plymouth 25 8 10 14 — 57
Adelle Drahos 10, Crystal Wilson 13, Rogers 3, Blair Meiggs 10, Kosik 6, Cannon 2.
Whitney Stokes 41, Brown 5, Young 5, Dance 5.