Statesville too much for East boys
GRANITE QUARRY — Statesville remains the lead float in the NPC parade, but credit East Rowan with hanging in there for half a game Monday night.
The sixth-place Mustangs brought a blank-check mentality into their regular-season finale and played inspired basketball until the third quarter.
“We just wanted to beat them,” senior Josh Gobble shrugged after host East dropped a 69-49 decision. “No one else has. What was there to lose?”
It was refreshing to watch the Mustangs (6-16, 3-9) play with an all-or-nothing approach. “Maybe we just wanted to surprise people,” said guard Calvin Edwards. “Maybe show them that we aren’t done yet.”
The only way they’ll be going to the state playoffs is if they buy tickets — or somehow capture next week’s conference tournament. But for half an hour last night, they gave state-ranked Statesville (17-3, 11-0) all it could handle.
“They played good basketball, executed their game plan well,” said winning coach Sonny Schofield. “They got us with a couple of back-door plays and lob passes. We just had to get them out of their rhythm, and we did that by making plays of our own.”
East went ahead 12-9 late in the first quarter when Conor Honeycutt beamed in a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Then after falling behing, the Mustangs pulled even when senior Tyler L’hommedieu banked in a 3-ball from the left side. Another score-tying basket was provided by Donte Means, who tumbled in for a layup that made it 19-19 with 5:36 remaining in the half.
“We were limiting them to one shot,” said ER coach Trey Ledbetter. “I think they got one offensive rebound the whole first half. We were stopping them and doing what we had to do. We didn’t let their athletic ability take over the game.”
East led for the last time midway through the second period when Honeycutt stole a ball near mid-court and accelerated for a runaway layup that produced a 23-21 edge.
“I knew we could compete with them,” Edwards said after topping all East scorers with 11 points. He added eight rebounds. “It was just a matter of playing as a team and keeping that intensity up.”
That’s a tall order — and East couldn’t keep pace with the Greyhounds. In the third quarter Statesville scored 15 unanswered points and held East without a field goal for nearly six minutes.
“That’s when we got our confidence back,” Schofield said. “Our communication on defense was as good as it was at the beginning of the season. If we play like that all the time, we can do some things.”
East, meanwhile, was smothered in the third quarter and trailed by as much as 67-41 with two minutes to play.
“In the first half we were patient, moved the ball around and didn’t force anything,” Gobble said after contributing 10 rebounds and seven first-quarter points. “In the second half we never got anything going. We started turning the ball over. We threw it in their hands and they took advantage.”
STATESVILLE (69) — Borders 16, Warren 15, Daniels 13, Gaither 10, Willis 5, Turner 4, St. John 4, Murdock 2.
EAST ROWAN (49) — Edwards 11,, L’hommedieu 9, Honeycutt 8, Gobble 7, Means 4, Brown 4, Se.Wyrick 3, Bell 3, Sa.Wyrick, Moses, Hall, Corpening.Statesville 17 14 21 17 — 69E. Rowan 14 12 7 16 — 49