Fast start helps P.K. Yonge top The Rock

The Rock's Ruby Patterson protects the ball against P.K. Yonge's Summer Barnett.
The Rock's Ruby Patterson protects the ball against P.K. Yonge's Summer Barnett.
Photo by C.J. Gish

The P.K. Yonge girls basketball team entered Friday afternoon’s game at The Rock on a three-game losing streak.

However, the Lady Blue Wave turned to their aggressive man-to-man defense to break out of the slump.

P.K. Yonge (5-4) forced 17 turnovers in the opening quarter and built an 11-0 lead in a 53-38 win on the road.

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P.K. Yonge's Ashlyn Young with a rebound against The Rock.
Photo by C.J. Gish P.K. Yonge’s Ashlyn Young with a rebound against The Rock.

“We’ve been talking about tenacity, we haven’t had any tenacity the last three games defensively and we picked up the pace and started getting some turnovers and getting some easy baskets,” said P.K. Yonge coach Willie Powers. “The last few games we haven’t gotten many easy baskets.”

Senior De’mar Wims (10 points) hit a pair of free throws at the halfway point of the opening quarter, followed by a left-wing 3-pointer by sophomore Ashlyn Young, to give the visitors an 11-0 lead with 2:59 to play in the period.

“We have a lot of growing to do,” said The Rock’s first-year coach Wes Phillips. “Once we learn how to play on two feet, I think we’ll be a lot stronger team, but that’s something we are training on every single day.”

The Rock finally got on the scoreboard on a 3-pointer by junior Niyah Jones, who scored the Lions’ only points of the quarter as P.K. Yonge led 14-3 heading into the second quarter.

Then, in the second quarter, sophomore Audrey Roberts (game-high 21 points) caught fire for the Lions (1-6).

The Lady Blue Wave had built a 15-point lead, their biggest lead of the half, but Roberts drained three 3-pointers in the quarter to bring her team back.

The Rock's Callie West and P.K. Yonge's Da'mar Wims battle for a rebound.
Photo by C.J. Gish The Rock’s Callie West and P.K. Yonge’s Da’mar Wims battle for a rebound.

“She’s one of our leaders on this team and she’s been carrying the team last year and this year,” Phillips said. “Starting as a freshman on a varsity team, she’s had a lot of weight on her shoulders. This year, we’re trying to change that, let her be on the court but not have total control of the ball, and I think with her as she progresses, and she learns how to play this game a little bit more…then we’ll turn the corner a little bit more.”

Following Roberts’ right wing three and an offensive put back by junior Callie West, the lead was cut to seven, 21-14, thanks to an 8-0 run.

Young added a pair of baskets, including scoring after an offensive rebound with 26 seconds left in the half, as P.K. Yonge was able to take a 27-16 lead at intermission.

A left wing 3-pointer by freshman Taylor Powers (7 points) gave P.K. Yonge a 30-16 lead just 20 seconds into the third quarter.

However, The Rock wouldn’t give up.

Roberts nailed a left wing 3-pointer to cut it to single digits, 30-21, and added another 3-pointer from the right wing to cut it to two points, 30-28, with 2:38 to play in the quarter.

“We’re working on turning the corner,” Phillips said. “It’s early in the season, but it’s no excuse. We were right there on that turning corner and today I told them it comes down to what’s in your heart…I think we need to reflect what’s on our heart, and when we show what’s on our heart, the score flipped.”

The Rock's Ruby Patterson with a pass against P.K. Yonge's Reniyah Clark.
Photo by C.J. Gish The Rock’s Ruby Patterson with a pass against P.K. Yonge’s Reniyah Clark.

After The Rock closed the gap, P.K. Yonge responded by going up double digits again.

“We’re older, I know we have like seven or eight varsity players, but we’re older and they weathered the storm,” Powers said. “You’re always going to have highs and lows but don’t get too high and don’t get too low and weather the storm and keep playing.”

A 14-0 run began with a 3-pointer by Young on the next possession to grab a 33-28 lead, and it ended on a basket by Young, who finished with a team-high 20 points.

“I expect 30-40 points a game out of Ashlyn,” Powers said. “She played well. She kept us under control. I thought our 8th-grader Jorryn Dye was unbelievable today rebounding, blocking shots, just active in the post, and that really helped.”

The Rock will travel to Gateway (Kissimmee) for a 4:30 p.m. game on Saturday, while P.K. Yonge will play at rival Gainesville at 7 p.m. on Monday.

The GHS-P.K. Yonge game will be broadcast online (audio only) at Mainstreet Daily News beginning at 6:45 p.m.

P.K. Yonge's Reniyah Clark snags a rebound against The Rock.
Photo by C.J. Gish P.K. Yonge’s Reniyah Clark snags a rebound against The Rock.
The Rock's Grace Griffis passes from a wall of P.K. Yonge defenders.
Photo by C.J. Gish The Rock’s Grace Griffis passes from a wall of P.K. Yonge defenders.
The Rock's Mateja Allen defends P.K. Yonge's Summer Barnett.
Photo by C.J. Gish The Rock’s Mateja Allen defends P.K. Yonge’s Summer Barnett.
P.K. Yonge's Ashlyn Young looks downcourt against The Rock.
Photo by C.J. Gish P.K. Yonge’s Ashlyn Young looks downcourt against The Rock.

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