Trailblazers win big on emotional senior night

Published 12:56 am Wednesday, February 26, 2014




Being a former member of the United States Navy, head coach Greg Rowe asks a lot of his team. Hard-nosed, tight defensive pressure, systematic ball movement and unwavering effort is the foundation behind the TEACH girls basketball team’s psyche.

In the Trailblazers’ final home game of the season Tuesday night, Rowe was in usual form, animately storming up and down the sidelines and directing his team like a conductor to a symphony orchestra.

Boasting a 16-2 record, senior floor leader Whitney Rowe and the Trailblazers matched up against Bethel Assembly Christian Academy, a team that has struggled to win games this season. On an emotionally-charged senior night, TEACH locked up win No. 17 in a 30-point rout of Bethel, 58-28.

“The philosophy is that everyone sells out on the defensive end. It all starts with defense,” Rowe said. “The most dangerous person on the court is the person with the ball. Side to side movement and leaving no one open is our philosophy.”

Every defensive scheme Bethel resorted to was countered by the Trailblazers’ methodical ball movement. Guards Whitney Rowe and Meredith Woolard worked the ball around the perimeter throughout the contest, drawing the defense away from the basket. Rowe located open teammates, and they capitalized, sinking mid-range jumpers and open looks in the paint.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Trailblazers executed a more up-tempo style of play. Pesky guard play forced turnovers, while Olivia Maxey served as a rock-solid paint presence. It was a formula for success.

“We played well on offense and defense,” Rowe said. “We shook off a little bit of a sluggish start. Ball pressure, turnovers and moving the ball up and down the court, that’s what we did.”

The Trailblazers led 31-12 at the half, and while Bethel strategized in the locker room, TEACH remained on the court, allowing the seniors to relish the moment.

The second half proved to be a carbon copy of the first. The team’s precise offensive attack, along with the relentless defensive intensity of a full-court press, left Bethel unable to chip away at the large lead.

Whitney Rowe finished with a game-high 21 points in her final home game, while Maxey ended with nine points. Freshman Meredith Woolard also finished with 12 points.

“They’ve given their heart and soul to the team,” Rowe said. “On defense, Olivia is just a rebounding machine. She’s going to give you six points and 10 rebounds a game and give you 110 percent. Whitney is the motor that makes the team go. You can see we moved the ball well, and that all starts with her.”

For Rowe, this was more than an emotional senior night. With his daughter Whitney graduating, the Trailblazers energetic head coach announced that he will also not be returning next season, despite pleas from the TEACH faithful.

However, Tuesday’s game does not mark the end of the Trailblazers’ long road. On March 5, the team will head to Tennessee to compete in the National Association of Christian Athletes National Tournament, the same postseason invitational the Trailblazers finished in fourth place last season.

“We’re looking forward to going up to Eastern Tennessee, and hopefully winning a couple games for Eastern North Carolina,” Rowe said.