Prep Hoops: East Rowan boys 77, North Rowan 50
By Nick Bowton
GRANITE QUARRY — The blowout became undeniably official when the East Rowan announcer spoke the words “Joe Ponds” and “3-pointer” in the same sentence.
After a monster second quarter, East emptied its bench early in the second half and cruised to a 77-49 victory against the winless Cavaliers on Tuesday.
East fans started calling for Ponds, a 5-foot-5 junior, early in the fourth quarter. He entered the game a few minutes later and hit a
3-pointer from the left corner with 1:59 remaining to put East (3-0) ahead 75-41.
“That was great, wasn’t it?” East coach Greg McKenzie said. “When Joe hit that shot, there was a lot of pressure because everybody in the gym wanted him to make it. And he did.”
Of course, he did.
After the shooting display East put on in the second quarter, a seldom-used reserve nailing a 3 from the corner should have been expected.
East entered the second quarter with a 20-16 lead after Spencer Sheets made three 3s for North (0-3) in the first. The Mustangs opened the second quarter with a Brian Ingold 3-pointer, a Justin Vanderford three-point play, a Kenan McKenzie 3-pointer and a Kurt Misenheimer 3.
Misenheimer’s 3 put the Mustangs ahead 32-16 just more than two minutes into the quarter, and the shooting barrage didn’t stop.
Vanderford scored 10 of his game-high 24 points in the quarter, while East made six of its 10 3s. By halftime, East led 49-24.
“What a second quarter,” Coach McKenzie said. “That was pretty much it.”
McKenzie’s Mustangs sure enjoyed that eight-minute stretch. Six different players scored.
“It’s great,” Vanderford said. “You make one pass, and it’s an assist. Somebody just pulls up and shoots the ball. We have a bunch of great shooters.”
As for the Cavs? They had a bunch of lowered heads. Way too many to please coach Kelly Everhart.
“We’ve got to learn to stop a run, and whenever a run like that happens, we can’t just drop our heads and quit,” he said. “I felt like we dropped our heads like it was over. We have to grow up. We have to mature in that perspective and learn that it’s not over.”
While the game wasn’t over at halftime, it certainly was out of reach. North has an inexperienced team. East has five of its best players back from last season.
That meant an East lead that never dipped below 24 points in the second half. Sheets led North with 15 points but scored only three after halftime. All of his points came on 3-pointers, and the Mustangs limited his looks as the game wore on.
“Some of the other guys on our team are gonna have to pick up their scoring to help us out,” Everhart said. “One person’s not gonna be able to carry us night-in and night-out.
“It’s a growing process. We’re still inexperienced, and we’ve got a lot of growing to do.”
The Mustangs, on the other hand, seem to be doing just fine.
Even most of their reserves scored, with Jordan Baker getting a three-point play, Jacob Wilhelm scoring four points and Ponds hitting his big 3.
“That was our problem last year, not closing teams out,” Vanderford said. “This year that was one of our main goals coming into the season, when we get ahead to keep ’em down. It was great watching Joey P come out there and knock down a 3.”
NORTH ROWAN (49) — Sheets 15, Griffith 11, N.Smith 9, Walker 3, Burnett 3, Gaymon 3, Hargrave 3, L.Smith 2, Kesler, L.Bell, Lewallen.
east ROWAN (77) — Vanderford 24, Misenheimer 11, McKenzie 11, Eagle 7, Davis 6, Wilhelm 4, Ingold 3, Ponds 3, Baker 3, Holmes 3, Wilson 2, Karl.
N. Rowan 16 8 5 20 — 49
E. Rowan 20 29 9 19 — 77
Contact Nick Bowton at 704-797-4256 or firstname.lastname@example.org.