LANDIS — The mental tug-of-war between strong-willed coaches and talented players is almost as old as Mr. Naismith’s peach basket.
Central Davidson’s 52-41 win against South Rowan on Thursday included the latest episode in that long-running series.
Central’s 6-foot-6 Chris Pompey, the most talented guy in the South Rowan gym, sat a portion of the first half and all of the third quarter, and he wasn’t sick, injured or in foul trouble.
“My decision — Chris wasn’t going to play again until he came and told me he was going to play the way he’s been been coached to play,” explained Central’s Brian Hege.
Pompey’s extended absence gave South (5-4) every opportunity to avenge a 69-52 loss at Central, but the Spartans (6-2) hung in the game without Pompey, and when he returned for the fourth quarter, he totally dominated. He finished with 24 points in roughly 18 minutes.
Qwan Rhyne scored 12 for South, and Dalton Carter and Tvadis Wesley hit the boards hard in a sluggish, cold-shooting first half that ended with the Raiders leading 23-19.
The springy Wesley blocked four Central shots in the third quarter, but Will Ramsey and Derek Chavis kept the Spartans close, and Landon King jumped off the bench to bury a 3-pointer from the right corner to tie the game at 31-all.
“I’d missed two shots in the first half, but Coach told me I needed to keep shooting, and I still had confidence,” King said.
King was almost as big as Pompey down the stretch.
“Give Chris credit – it took him a whole quarter, but he said he was ready to be coached and he played well,” Hege said. “But Landon was the spark.”
King’s 3-pointer with 3:53 remaining put Central ahead 39-37. After Shawn Spry hit two tying free throws for South, Pompey produced a soaring and-one to put Central up 42-39.
Pompey’s short banker and oh-my-gosh tip-in gave the Spartans a seven-point lead, and King sealed victory with his floater with 45 seconds left.
“Roller-coaster ride,” South coach Bryan Withers said. “Our decision-making was just awful. We were coming off a good win and wanted to build on it. Instead, we took a step back, but that’s the way the process works with such a young team.”
CENTRAL DAVIDSON (52) — Pompey 24, Ramsey 10, King 8, Chavis 7, Hanes 3, Walls, Biesecker, Pigg, Snider, Lakey,
SOUTH ROWAN (41) — Rhyne 12, Spry 9, Holbrook 5, Wesley 4, Carter 4, Corriher 4, Medlin 3, Tyler, Goldston, Ouellette, Garlin.
C. Davidson 11 8 12 21 — 52
S. Rowan 16 7 8 10 — 41