Prep Hoops: A.L. Brown boys 56, North Rowan 42

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 7, 2006

By Mike London

Salisbury Post

KANNAPOLIS — Sleek Josh Gray, a 6-foot-3 speeding bullet who is drawing Division I interest in both basketball and football, scored 18 points to lead unbeaten A.L. Brown to a 56-42 win over visiting North Rowan at Bullock Gym.

The home team started slowly on Wednesday, but Gray, who scored all eight of Brown’s first-quarter points, allowed the Wonders to tread water until his teammates decided to help out a little.

“Gray’s very athletic, runs very well,” North coach Kelly Everhart said. “He puts a lot of pressure on you.”

North, blown out by East Rowan on Tuesday, got 22 long-range points from Spencer Sheets and looked better than advertised.

“I thought we played much better,” Everhart said. “We didn’t score all that much more, but we made a few more shots and had a lot more intensity.”

The Wonders got scoring from seven different players in the second quarter but still led only 22-20 at halftime.

“I thought we played hard, but North controlled the tempo,” Brown coach Shelwyn Klutz said. “North has some pretty quick athletes. They broke us down a lot off the dribble, and No. 23 (Sheets) really hurt us.”

With J.D. Davidson, Greg Brown and Jacob Newman getting points inside, Brown slowly built a working margin in the third quarter.

Brown enjoyed its biggest lead — 45-31 — after back-to-back jumpers by Jeremy Jones midway through the final quarter.

Brown led 51-42 with 33 seconds left and was in a delay mode when junior Jonathan Efird shocked everyone in the building by hoisting a 3-pointer.

Efird nailed the shot– otherwise he may have been strangled by the coaching staff in front of several hundred witnesses.

“They’ve told me when I’m open to shoot, so I put it up,” Efird explained with a sheepish grin. “Its not like I was trying to run the score up.”

Efird let Gray handle most of the scoring. Efird is Brown’s football quarterback. He and Gray, a 1,000-yard receiver, are still on the same wave-length.

“Josh runs hard every time we get a board, and I hit him long for about five connections tonight,” Efird said. “Chemistry from football carries over, I guess.”

Daniel Griffith, a fine football quarterback in his own right, chipped in with nine points for the Cavaliers (0-2), but Sheets, who hit four 3-pointers, was North’s only steady source of offense.

“Right down to the last few minutes, I thought we could make a run, but we just ran out of fuel,” Everhart said. “Spencer did well, but he got tired and came up short on some shots. That was understandable. We had guys playing a lot of minutes the last two nights.”

Brown was also playing back-to-back, but it is bigger and deeper than the Cavaliers.

“I had some shots falling and did what I could, but I thought Brown was a real good, real athletic team,” Sheets said. “That big guy they had in there (the 6-5, 285-pound Davidson) was just a beast.”

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NOTE: Klutz wasn’t thrilled with the way the Wonders started their home opener. “The good news is we’re 3-0, but there’s a lot of work to do,” he said. “The first quarter, we didn’t run our offense at all.”

NORTH ROWAN (42) — Sheets 22, Griffith 9,

Burnett 5, L. Bell 4, Gaymon 2, Kesler, L. Smith, N. Smith, Walker.

A.L. Brown (56) — Gray 18, Efird 8, Jones 7, Brown 6, Davidson 5, Newman 4, Posey 2, Gillion 2, Lott 2, Johnson 2, Yates.

N. Rowan 8 12 9 13 — 42

A.L. Brown 8 14 15 19 — 56

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Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or mlondon@salisburypost.com.

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