No. 1 St. Mikes Loses

Originally Published: December 31, 2008
By Kelvin Powell | ESPN HoopGurlz

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Senior point guard Trena Moore- Smith scored 23 points and seniors Nikki Burton and Christal Caldwell combined for 19 points and 16 rebounds as West Charlotte upset No. 1 St. Michael Academy 71-57 Tuesday at the Bojangles Shootout.

"It's a big win for our program, for the school of West Charlotte, the state of North Carolina" West Charlotte coach Reginald Mobley said.

West Charlotte will play cross-town rival Butler for the tournament championship. Sophomore standout Cierra Burdick recorded a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds as Butler defeated another North Carolina school, East Mecklenburg, 62-47 in the other semifinal.

Butler held East Mecklenburg to 27-percent shooting and out rebounded East 45-34. Celeste Stewart (East Carolina signee) and Jaquaria Forney (Charlotte) had 17 points and 14 points respectively for East Mecklenburg. Freshmen Aliyah Kilpatrick led East Mecklenburg with 15 points.

[+] EnlargeNikki Burton
Glenn Nelson/ Nikki Burton helped lead West Charlotte over No. 1 St. Michael's Academy.

St Michael's held an early one point lead midway through the first but unraveled a little later and found itself down 24-17 at the end of the first quarter. West Charlotte was focused on slowing down the hot shooting hand of St. Michael junior guard Jennifer O'Neil, who scored 31 points in her team's opening round victory over Norcross (Ga.) on Monday. West Charlotte shifted from its normal fullcourt pressing style and went to a box-and-one on O'Neil and St. Michael's struggled to find ways to score against the box.

O'Neil led St. Michael with 12 points on 5-for-11 shooting.

Meanwhile, the tandem of Burton (Louisville signee) and Caldwell (Florida) controlled the boards over the much-bigger St. Michael team and West Charlotte controlled the tempo to a 41-33 lead at the half. The second half brought more of the same as West Charlotte shot 50 percent from the field while holding St. Michael to 29 percent.

Smith continued her stellar play in the third quarter and when she hit the third of her four 3-pointer the lead grew to double digits 46-35. And it would remain in double digits the remainder of the game.

"We normally press a little a more. We showed a lot more discipline and we executed the game plan" Mobley stated afterwards. "We've got to stay humble and good things will come."

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Kelvin Powell is a national high-school evaluator for ESPN HoopGurlz. A former coach and club-program director, he operates Roundball Journal, a leading prep scouting service, and is a contributing editor at SLAM Magazine, as well as a member of the McDonald's All-American and the Gatorade National and State Player of the Year Selection Committees. He can be reached at