Prep Basketball: West Rowan boys 67, Northwest Cabarrus 63
By Mike London
MOUNT ULLA — West Rowan’s K.P. Parks and Willie Sherrill hit sensational shots, Jamel Carpenter was great at the end, and Kaleb Kimber, K.J. Sherrill and Zack Martin were terrific from the beginning.
Still, Northwest Cabarrus coach Daniel Jenkins insisted West’s main man was the bald guy wearing a blue turtleneck instead of a jersey. Jenkins said opposing coach Mike Gurley was the key to West’s 67-63 victory on Wednesday in an NPC showdown that lived up to the pregame hype.
“Everyone talks about Jamel and the young kids, but they forget about Coach Gurley and how many big games he’s been in,” Jenkins said. “This was a big game, and West Rowan was just a lot more ready at the start to play a big game than we were.”
West (13-2, 6-0) dominated the first quarter, but Gurley would be the first to tell you he was going to look really smart or really stupid, depending on how many long-range shots Kimber and Martin could knock down over Northwest’s zone defense.
Kimber scored a team-high 18 points — the first time he’s led the Falcons. Martin tossed in four 3-pointers. It was enough.
“Our young guys had some patient stretches where we waited until we got exactly what we wanted,” Gurley said. “We kept our cool.”
Northwest (12-4, 4-2) got 20 points from guard Jon Hathcock and 16 from 6-foot-7 Roy Allison, a long, lean man-child, who played the point at times.
But the Trojans missed Brien Garcia, a double-figure scorer and their most rugged player. He suffered an ankle injury at Tuesday’s practice and entered the gym on crutches.
Gurley acknowledged how valuable Garcia is to the Trojans, but Jenkins downplayed his absence.
“I still think we’re good enough to win without any one player,” he said. “We’re not one-dimensional. We were still putting a pretty good team on the floor that would have won most ballgames.”
West nearly chased the Trojans out of the gym in the first quarter, hitting everything, pounding the boards and seizing a 21-11 lead.
West led 38-27 at the half after Parks flipped up a highlight-film and-one as he careened into the wall of the gym and drew Hathcock’s third foul. Akeem Dixon, Garcia’s replacement, also had three fouls at the half, so the Trojans were in deep trouble.
Still, Gurley cautioned his team a third-quarter Northwest run was coming — and it came.
Jenkins asked his team to cut its deficit to five points by the end of the quarter. The Trojans did even better, shooting 66.7 percent and using sprees by Hathcock, Allison and Ryen Black to tie the game 51-51 heading to the last eight minutes.
Back-to-back spectacular drives and finishes by Hathcock gave Northwest a 59-58 lead with 2:18 left, but Kimber nailed his biggest shot 19 seconds later from the left wing to give the Falcons the lead back.
A big board by K.J. Sherrill gave Carpenter a chance to drive for a powerful layup and a three-point lead. The senior had been quiet. It was his second bucket.
“Jamel’s a caring child,” Gurley said. “His personality is to take things to heart. He’s had some games lately that weren’t his best, and it’s bothered him.”
A Dixon putback lifted Northwest to another one-point deficit, but with 25 seconds remaining, Carpenter swished one-and-one free throws to put West ahead 64-61.
“I’ve been struggling, but I know it’s going to come back to me,” Carpenter said. “It has to. This game is my love.
“On the free throws, I’ve been there so many times in that situation, it’s second nature to me.”
West put the game away with two K.J. Sherrill free throws and one by Martin, who worked free for a crucial inbounds pass with West leading by three points with two seconds left.
It was West’s fifth win by four or fewer points, and the Falcons now own a two-game lead in the NPC race. As Jenkins suggested, the bald guy might have something do with all those tight victories.
nw cabarrus (63) — Hathcock 20, Allison 16, Quigley 12, Dixon 8, Black 6, West 1, Wright.
west rowan (67) — Kimber 18, Martin 13, K. Sherrill 12, Parks 8, Carpenter 6, W. Sherrill 6, Smith 2, Stricklin 2, Browning, Bradshaw.
NWC 11 16 24 12 — 63
W. Rowan 21 17 13 16 — 67
Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or email@example.com.