Prep Basketball: Reserves shine for mighty North Rowan boys
SPENCER — North Rowan freshman Jalen Sanders threw himself on the floor to keep a ball from going out of bounds, and he flipped it back to Shareef Walker, who promptly powered in an and-one.
“It was a broken play and I thought the ball was going out of bounds, but I kept on running and Jalen made a play,” Walker said. “I got hacked, but I stayed focused and got the ball up on the board and it went in.”
Sanders and Walker are names you don’t often see at the start of reports about North Rowan’s boys, but they and their fellow reserves were the story in Tuesday’s 89-44 YVC win against visiting East Montgomery.
Oshon West poured in 22 points in three quarters of action to pace North. Michael Connor had a huge second quarter and scored 12 for North. Big man Malik Ford added 10.
Ahmad Baldwin scored 19 to prevent the Eagles (9-9, 6-5) from being annihilated.
“East Montgomery is a really good team in our league,” North backup post man Dalton Nelson said. “They’re very athletic and they had their moments.”
North had more, but the high-powered Cavaliers (15-3, 10-0) started flat and cold.
It was 16-9 after a quarter, and North coach Andrew Mitchell played his second five the first four minutes of the second quarter, something he never hesitates to do, even in a close game.
“There’s no negative energy from our bench,” Mitchell said. “I appreciate those guys. We know we’ve got guys that would start for other schools in reserve roles, but they are willing to make sacrifices. We don’t have anyone sitting over there hoping a starter messes up so he can play. Everyone pulls for everyone else.”
With its second team on the floor, North didn’t score much, but East Montgomery’s starters weren’t scoring often either.
“Our bench was able to contend with their starters,” Mitchell said. “Then we came back with our fresh starters against their tired starters or their subs — and we like that matchup.”
When starters West, Connor, Ford, Michael Bowman and T.J. Bates returned midway through the second quarter, North’s lead stood at 21-12, and East Montgomery’s confidence was building.
That confidence was shattered a few minutes later. Connor hit a 3 from the right corner to ignite a run. West lobbed to Ford for a powerful dunk. Ford took a charge. West buried a 3.
Then it was Connor for two, then Connor for three, and then Connor for a dunk to end the half.
It was 40-15, and it was over.West scored 13 points in a lights-out third quarter to match East Montgomery’s total. Sanders had three buckets in the quarter as the Cavs put up 30 points.
North turned to its reserves completely in the fourth quarter, and Walker, Alexis Archie, Kihrey Ellis, Brandon Nelson and Devon Tate outscored the visitors.
“We’ve all got a role,” Walker said. “I just did my job.”
The reserves did that job well on Tuesday. The starters noticed.
“It was tough for us at the beginning tonight,” West said. “But our second unit played great defense. That’s what got us rolling.”EAST MONTGOMERY (44) — Baldwin 19, Little 9, Chambers 5, Lancaster 3, Smith 2, Morrison 2, Pegues 2, Durham 1, Scott 1, Robinson, Watkins.
NORTH ROWAN (89) — West 22, Connor 12, Ford 10, Sanders 9, Bowman 9, Archie 7, Ellis 5, Walker 5, B. Nelson 4, Bates 2, D. Nelson 2, Tate 2, Bost, Billingsley.E. Mont. 9 6 13 16 — 44N. Rowan 16 24 30 19 — 89