Before Friday night’s game even tipped off, Rocky Mount High forward J’Kyra Brown promised her coach and her trainer that if she felt any discomfort in her left knee that she would tell them.
By the fourth quarter, she had forgotten about her mild sprain just three days earlier.
Brown scored 16 of her game-high 24 points in a pivotal fourth quarter, broke the Gryphons’ alltime girls’ scoring record and returned just in time to keep Rocky Mount High from its first four-game losing streak in six years with a 53-47 victory against Wilson Fike.
“I said, ‘Coach, just let me play,’” Brown said. “... I just went all out. I had to play.”
Brown sat on the bench the entire first quarter as the Gryphons (13-7, 5-3 Big East), who retook sole possession of second place in the conference, led by three points.
Checking into the game to an ovation with 6:36 to go in the second, Brown scored five points before checking out with 1:49 to go in the first half.
“She did the necessary things,” Rocky Mount High coach Pam Gainey said. “You want her to be careful, be cautious and just be safe. But she’s going to go out there and go after it.”
After playing fewer than five minutes in the first half, Brown didn’t come out of the game in the second half.
Her putback with 6:57 to play brought the Gryphons within four points of Wilson Fike (11-7, 3-5) and earned her sole possession of first place on the alltime scoring list, passing Kim Taylor, who finished her career in 1983 with 1,600 points.
“It (has) just really been a pleasure to watch her grow in the game and mature,” said Gainey, who played against Taylor in the early 1980s. “To accomplish that is something special.”
Brown dominated from there, scoring 11 points in the final 3:45 and hitting five free throws in the final two minutes.
“I just had to not worry about my knee,” Brown said. “I got out there, and the adrenaline started running. I didn’t even feel my knee.”
Rocky Mount High 74, Wilson Fike 40
The Gryphons showed the killer instinct early that coach Mike Gainey hoped his team would have at this point in the season, and as a result, cruised to an easy victory and an automatic bye in the first round of the Big East Conference Tournament.
“That’s step one going forward,” Mike Gainey said. “It’s just preparation to get to the playoffs and getting ourselves rolling.”
Rocky Mount High (18-2, 7-1) opened the game with a 10-1 run, and forward Dante Battle, who scored a game-high 14 points, scored seven of the Gryphons’ nine straight points to open the second quarter.
“That’s what we need every game,” guard Michael Hines said. “We have to come off from the tip-off and run.”
All but one of the Gryphons scored as Rocky Mount High defeated Wilson Fike (3-15, 0-8) for the second time this season.
Rocky Mount High 53
Wilson Fike 47
WF 8 16 12 11 – 47
RMH 11 14 6 22 – 53
WF: E.J. Proctor (21 points); Jameka Ruffin (6 points); Jasmine Fate (6 points); Alexis Spells (5 points); Shatera Black (3 points); Breyonna Brown (2 points); Briyonna Hunter (2 points); Alexia Evans (2 points).
RMH: J’Kyra Brown (24 points); Richardson (15 points); Kelsey Daniels (8 points); Sakeya Battle (4 points); Takeyra Thomas (2 points).
Rocky Mount High 74
Wilson Fike 40
WF 9 7 11 14 – 40
RMH 17 20 9 28 – 74
WF: Jeremy Phillips (9 points); Sam Ellis (7 points); Brandon Monk (5 points); Jakel Jenkins (5 points); Trevon Virgil (3 points); T.J. Harris (2 points); Jordan Lee (2 points); Brandon Gray (2 points); Rashad Spruill (2 points); A.J. Hines (2 points); Anthony Evans (1 point).
RMH: Dante Battle (14 points); Broderick Caudle (9 points); Thomas Cooper (8 points); Immanuel King (8 points); M.J. Gainey (8 points); Austin Warner (5 points); Kenaz Cooper (4 points); Mason Hines (4 points); Michael Hines (4 points); Jaquell Bryant (4 points); J.T. Smith (2 points); Jaequez Jones (2 points); Tony Batts (1 point); Austin Warner (1 point).
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org