Prep Basketball: North Rowan boys 90, West Montgomery 49
SPENCER — West Montgomery has ended three straight North Rowan football seasons, and the Warriors weren’t shy about vocally reminding the Cavaliers’ basketball team of that fact when they visited on Friday.
“They came into the locker room with a lot of chants and a lot of chatter about football,” North coach Andrew Mitchell said. “We’ve got some winners and warriors on this team. They took it very personally, and I’m glad we’ve got some guys like that.”
North pounded West Montgomery by six touchdowns, plus some PATs. The final was 90-49, with the exclamation point provided by a slam dunk by third-team freshman Josh Handy that had fans spilling onto the floor in their excitement.
Keep in mind this wasn’t one of the league’s bottom-feeders. West Montgomery (6-6, 5-2) figures to finish no worse than third place in the YVC.
North (12-3, 8-0) didn’t scare anyone in the middle two quarters, but for the opening 10 minutes and at the start of the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers looked frightening for a 1A team.
“They really hurt us a lot with their putbacks, and we didn’t do a very good job boxing out,” said WM coach Kevin King, who was a starter on the Charlotte 49ers’ famed Final Four team in 1977.
North’s pressure forced a wave of early turnovers and the Cavaliers got 11 points from Oshon West and seven from Shareef Walker as they surged to leads of 13-3, 20-7 and 33-9.
“When we lost that last football game to them, I told them we’d be coming after them in basketball,” West said with a smile. “We got sloppy a few times, but we always got it back together.”
Alexis Archie, North’s sophomore football QB, probably had his best game . He started in place of injured Michael Connor and had eight points and several fastbreak-triggering steals.
“Alexis came in about a week ago and said he didn’t think he was contributing to the team,” Mitchell said. “We kinda laughed because he’s contributed a lot. He’s very important at the back of our defense, and he made some shots tonight. This should be a confidence-building game for him.”
Mitchell was very sick Thursday and missed school, but he said assistants Tim Bates and Bill Kesler led a strong practice in his absence.
“I’m thinking I should let them handle all the practices the day before games,” Mitchell joked. “We came out with a lot of focus. We started this game very inspired.”
North had topped 100-plus points in two of its three previous YVC games and appeared headed down that road again, but big man Malik Ford got in foul trouble early and West Montgomery packed in a zone defense that slowed the game down and forced North into long-range misses.
West and Jalen Sanders were the only Cavaliers to hit a 3-pointer.
In the middle two quarters, North outscored the visitors just 32-29, and when Brad Absher hit one of West Mongomery’s seven 3-pointers two minutes into the second half, a North lead that had been as large as 24 points had been whittled down to 43-30.
Cody McKenzie’s 3-pointer made it 57-38 after three quarters, but North destroyed the visitors at the outset of the fourth quarter.
“We told the guys that West Montgomery had scored too many points in the third quarter, and we went to work to correct that,” Mitchell said.
North was re-energized at the start of the fourth quarter and piled on the Warriors. Sanders, who scored 16, led that spurt.
“We had to get some revenge on them,” he said. “They’re a good team and they fought us, but we stepped up our defense and pulled away.”
Caleb Drake, WM’s football star, had the satisfaction of a fourth-quarter dunk, but Handy answered it.
“North Rowan has a great team with a lot of depth,” King said. “But we’ve got some things we can work on, and when they come to us, it could be a different game.”
WEST MONTGOMERY (49) — Drake 19, McKenzie 12, Absher 7, Nicholson 7, Cole 3, Little 1, Morse, Burnett, Sims,
NORTH ROWAN (90) —West 23, Sanders 16, Walker 11, Bowman 10, Archie 8, Ford 7, Handy 6, D. Nelson 4, Bates 3, Tate 2, Ellis, B. Nelson, Billingsley.
W. Montgomery 9 15 14 11 — 49
N. Rowan 25 16 16 33 — 90