Prep Basketball: East Rowan boys 65, Salisbury 57
By Bill Kiser
GRANITE QUARRY — East Rowan coach Greg McKenzie isn’t ready to say that his Mustangs have the measure of county rival Salisbury.
But after the Mustangs’
65-57 non-conference victory on Wednesday night, he did offer up some thoughts as to why he thinks the Hornets have struggled against East the last three years.
“When somebody’s beaten you several times in a row, a lot of times it gets in your head,” McKenzie said after East Rowan won its seventh straight over Salisbury since the 2003-2004 season. “That kinda makes it hard to beat a team. You start thinking too much, worrying a little too much about it and trying too hard.
“Still, (Salisbury was) a tough team to put away, and a tough team to beat. They’re going to have a great year, and I’ll be surprised if they don’t do well in their conference and in the playoffs.”
The Mustangs’ winning streak — now at nine games against all opponents this season — includes all three meetings this season, tops among them a 71-64, double-overtime victory over the Hornets in the finals of the RoMedical Sam Moir Christmas Classic at Catawba College last week.
Still, East Rowan (12-1) had its hands full against Salisbury, which tied the score late in the second quarter and pulled within two points late in the fourth quarter.
“Tonight was tough, because there wasn’t a trophy to play for and we’re getting heated up with our conference races,” Hornets head coach Jason Causby said.
With two key reserves — Brian Ingold and Trey Holmes — down because of injury or illness, East Rowan had to play ironman ball against Salisbury, considered one of the more athletic teams in the county.
Three starters — Justin Vanderford, Kenan McKenzie and Spenser Davis — played all 32 minutes, while Kurt Misenheimer and Shawn Eagle sat out the final seven seconds of the third quarter.
Misenheimer finished with a game-high 19 points — including four 3-pointers — and 12 rebounds for the Mustangs, with McKenzie, Davis and Eagle adding 13 points apiece.
While Vanderford finished with just seven points, he also drew the toughest assignment of the game — playing the “1” in a box-and-1 defense on Doug Campbell, Salisbury’s No. 2 scorer at 13.3 points per game.
“He’s such a good player and the key to everything they do,” Greg McKenzie said of Campbell. “So I decided to focus on stopping him and make the rest of them beat us. If we could keep him out of it, we stood a good chance.”
Hampered by Vanderford and the box-and-1, Campbell finished with just two points on 1-of-10 shooting, and appeared visibly frustrated at times.
“They limited his scoring … but he also got frustrated to the point where it took him out of all the other things that he does on the court,” Causby said.
Joe Allen led the Hornets (7-6) with 17 points and 13 rebounds, Ibn Ali had 13 points and Nick White came off the bench to score 13 points and pull down nine rebounds.
The Mustangs opened the second half by making three straight layups in a 1:35 stretch to push their lead back to eight points, and went ahead 51-40 at the end of the period when Misenheimer — fouled at the buzzer as he attempted a 3-pointer — hit three free throws with no time left.
However, Salisbury fought back in the fourth quarter, with an 11-3 run, cutting East’s lead to 57-55 with 2:26 remaining. But Vanderford drove for a layup and hit a pair of free throws, Eagle hit a jumper and Misenheimer made two free throws to close out the game.
Salisbury (57) — Allen 17, Ali 13, White 13, Campbell 12, Phifer 8, Campbell 2, Abel 2, Rose.
east rowan (65) — Misenheimer 19, Eagle 13, McKenzie 13, Davis 13, Vanderford 7, Holmes, Wilhelm.
Salisbury 11 21 8 17 — 57
E. Rowan 21 13 17 14 — 65