Moir Christmas Classic: South Rowan boys 73, West Rowan 71
SALISBURY — West Rowan’s Seth Martin had just drilled West Rowan’s 13th 3-pointer of the night with five seconds left to cut a South Rowan lead to 73-71. The Falcons raced up to press, hoping for one last chance.
Eric Tyler made sure it wasn’t going to happen. He simply stood out of bounds until the clock ran out, giving the Raiders an impressive victory and avenging an NPC loss last week.
West coach Mike Gurley went straight for Tyler and said he playfully told the South senior, “You turkey,” before giving him a postgame hug.
“He was smart enough to realize with five seconds left, he didn’t have to throw it in,” Gurley noted. “I went out and said, ‘That’s smart basketball.’ ”
Bryan Withers’ Raiders came out focused from Josh Medlin’s first basket to the last free throw by Tyler.
“Intensity and effort,” Tyler beamed afterward. “Coach Withers preaches tough, physical basketball.”
South (6-6) had a nice run at the end of the second quarter to go up 38-28 at halftime behind big, strong Tvadis Wesley inside, the slashing of Quan Rhyne and Josh Medlin, and the playmaking of Tyler and Shawn Spry.
But the Falcons (2-10), with a young, inexperienced team, have a new philosophy: shoot the three. West was 13-of-30 from long distance.
“We couldn’t shake them,” whewed Withers. “Every time we’d get a lead, they’d knock down two or three. My guys were getting out there a step late but you don’t expect them to shoot it four feet off the line.”
Especially sophomore Celexus Long, who went 7-of-13 from downtown, finishing with 28 points in his first start.
“Obviously we have to change our game based on our personnel,” Gurley said. “We’ve got good shooters.”
West actually grabbed the lead 49-47 on Long’s 3 but South kept attacking. Medlin and Dalton Carter scored to end the third for a 51-49 lead.
From there, Spry took over. If West was looking for his shot, Spry fooled them by passing. Two straight assists to Wesley and it was 65-59. When he drove for a 3-point play and it was 68-61.
“That’s the great thing about Shawn — his versatility,” Tyler said. “He knew West was watching last night (a 22-point effort in a loss to Salisbury) and he knew the shots weren’t going to be there like last night.”
South slowed it down, didn’t play out of control, and forced West to foul. Tyler sank three and Spry two for a 73-68 lead.
“My players are getting smarter,” Withers said. “We have the lead, we don’t have to force things. We’re going to knock down our free throws because we shoot them fairly well.”
When asked if he was nervous on his late free-throw attempts, Tyler smiled.
“I’ve played enough basketball. It’s just a free throw, when it comes down to it.”
Tyler also has played enough to know when not to throw ball inbounds. Because of it, South plays again today.
NOTES: South meets East Rowan today at 1:30 p.m. ... South was 14-of-19 from the line, including seven of its last eight. ... Wesley led South with 14, followed by Rhyne and Medlin with 12. Spry had 10. ... Martin was 4-of-9 from 3-point range and scored 14. ... Carter was big, hitting four of five from the field and grabbing seven rebounds.
WEST ROWAN (71) — Long 28, Martin 14, Parks 12, Tucker 8, Reddick 3, Gabriel 2, Avery 2, Blackwood 2, Gallagher, Hassard, Morrison, Wilson, Phillips.
SOUTH ROWAN (73) — Wesley 14, Medlin 12, Rhyne 12, Spry 10, Carter 9, Tyler 5, Hill 5, Rary 2, Corriher 2, Miller 2, Goldston, Holbrook, Oulette.
W. Rowan 17 11 21 22 — 71
S. Rowan 21 17 13 22 — 73