Prep Basketball: North Rowan boys 61, Salisbury 52
By David Shaw
SPENCER — The basketball gods don’t have North Rowan to kick around anymore.
Not after the Cavaliers stunned visiting Salisbury 61-52 on Wednesday, earning their third straight victory after launching the season with 11 consecutive losses.
“This is a new year,” freshman Winslow Cherry declared after North improved to 3-2 in the CCC and inched within a half-game of Salisbury (9-7, 4-2). “And a new year brings new things.”
For North, this was the post-Christmas gift you never want to return. “It’s a fantastic win,” said bright-eyed coach Kelly Everhart. “Somebody asked me earlier today if I thought we had a chance and I said I felt really good about this game. I just sensed that we’d be up to play these guys.”
Were they ever. North received a game-high 19 points from forward Spencer Sheets and 18 more from Cherry, a 6-foot-2 postman who plays bigger. Defensively, the Cavs’ triangle-and-two frustrated Salisbury and limited top-gunners Doug Campbell and Joe Allen to a combined 19 points.
“That was a key,” Sheets said after reaching double figures for the eighth time. “We had to execute on defense and we did. It feels good to win, because we definitely worked hard for this.”
The Hornets, a 59-51 winner against Ledford just 24 hours earlier, owned an early 8-4 lead. But North turned the tide with a 13-2 run that turned the raucous NR cheering section into a human trampoline. “We haven’t heard that all year,” Sheets said with a smile. “We needed that.”
Salisbury, on the other hand, needed to make more baskets. The Hornets finished with 15 field goals — and just two in the fourth quarter.
“This is the last place I wanted to be after playing last night,” said SHS coach Jason Causby. “I knew these guys were gonna play hard and be inspired. Our kids did not step up and meet the challenge tonight.”
Allen’s return to North — where he spent the past two seasons — was a bust. He totaled eight points before fouling out with 2:06 to play. Campbell finished with a team-best 11 points but significantly failed to score in the first half.
“When he gets hot he can be an explosive scorer,” said Everhart. “We knew we had to contain him, keep a hand in his face and hope he never got going.”
He never really did. Salisbury fell behind 33-21 at halftime and trailed by as many as 16 points when Derrick Burnett buried a
3-pointer from the right side with 1:19 remaining in the third quarter.
“I think we played like we had a big chip on our shoulders,” said Cherry, who netted 14 first-half points. “A chip we had to get off.”
The fourth quarter was a curious adventure for the Cavs. They missed 13 of 18 free throw attempts and made only two baskets, yet maintained their composure and a comfortable lead. It got as close as 57-51 when Campbell converted a pair of last-minute foul shots before Sheets scored on a breakaway layup to seal the deal with 36 seconds left.
“We didn’t do the little things that made us successful at different times this year,” said Causby. “That’s the difference in the game. We didn’t box out. We missed 14 free throws. We weren’t in position on defense. They just spread us out and broke us down.”
North played like the first 11 games of its season never happened.
“All year long I’ve felt like we haven’t played up to the level we’re capable of,” said Everhart, who’s team has lost four games by eight points or less. “Tonight we finally got there.”
salisbury (52) — Campbell 11, Allen 8, Hamilton 7, Phifer 7, Abel 6, Rose 5, Ali 5, White 3.
north rowan (61) — Sheets 19, Cherry 18, Griffith 10, Gaymon 6, Burnett 3, Still 3, Walker 2, Kesler, Hargrave.
Salisbury 13 8 18 13 — 52
N. Rowan 17 16 19 9 — 61
Contact David Shaw at email@example.com.