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Prep Basketball: East Rowan boys 74, Mount Tabor 58: Mustangs win 11th straight

By David Shaw

Salisbury Post

GRANITE QUARRY — It’s hard to imagine things getting much better than this for the East Rowan boys basketball team.

Especially after Tuesday’s 74-58 win over visiting Mount Tabor gave the Mustangs the inside track in the race for a CPC championship.

“They’re a fun team to watch — unless you’re playing against them,” losing coach Andy Muse said after East

(14-1, 4-0) gained its 11th straight victory. “They play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. They are the best team in our conference.”

It certainly looked that way last night. East placed four scorers in double figures and blew the game open in the second quarter, when it outscored Mount Tabor — sit down for this — by a 26-4 margin.

“We were on tonight,” guard Spenser Davis said after tossing in a season-best 18 points. “We were on a roll. When we play at our level, not many teams can stay with us.”

After a back-and-forth opening quarter, East turned this game into a day at Disneyland. It played with spirit and jubilance, making a near-blowout of a match many expected would be tightly contested.

“It certainly looked like we were having fun,” said ER coach Greg McKenzie. “Our guys seem very confident in our team, not just themselves. Our chemistry gets better every game. It’s a little unusual.”

It was if you consider that Davis, the pass-first/shoot-second point guard, reached double figures for the third straight game and fourth in the past five. And it was odd that swingman Kenan McKenzie — a guy who seems as normal as cream cheese on a bagel — had a perfect shooting night.

“It’s about time,” he said after converting three 3-pointers, going 4-for-4 from the field and totaling 15 points. “I haven’t been making my shots this year, but I just felt relaxed tonight. I think we all did. We weren’t overconfident. We were ready, but relaxed.”

They must have been after scoring the first eight points of the second period and mounting a 26-16 lead. Included were back-to-back 3-balls by McKenzie, the second from about 23-feet out on left side.

“How can you defend that?” Muse wondered after the Spartans (9-7 overall) slipped to 3-2 in league play. “In the second quarter we couldn’t put the ball in the hole and they just put on a clinic.”

It lasted until halftime. McKenzie drained another 3-pointer, teammate Shawn Eagle buried one from deep in the left corner and Justin Vanderford penetrated the lane three times for layups, helping the Mustangs grab a 44-20 lead at the break.

“That’s how we played the second half against West Forsyth (in Friday’s 86-64 win),” said Coach McKenzie. “The first quarter was close, but we just kept plugging away and playing smart.”

East extended its gait in the third period, grabbing a 55-24 lead when Kurt Misenheimer drilled a 3-pointer midway through the quarter. The Mustangs led by 30 points on a couple of occasions in the fourth, the last when Travis Wilson came off the bench and made a layup with three minutes to play.

“This was an old-fashioned butt-kicking,” Muse said after MT’s locker room had emptied. “They’re just a good team — five guys who can all shoot and pass and who know their roles.”

None of them where better than Davis, who shot 8-for-12 from the field and added seven assists. “We’ve gotten a lot of good opportunities this year,” he said. “We just have to stay focused. If we practice hard and keep taking it one game and one practice at a time, good things will happen.”

MT. Tabor (58) — Delapp 13, Griffith 13, Harris 9, Grace 8, McDonald 6, Goodwin 4, Downey 3, MacOn 2.

east rowan (74) — Davis 18, Vanderford 16, McKenzie 15, Misenheimer 10, Eagle 7, Wilhelm 6, Wilson 2, Ponds, Karl, Holmes, Baker.

Mt. Tabor 16 4 18 20 — 58

E. Rowan 18 26 15 15 — 74

*

Contact David Shaw at sports@salisburypost.com.

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