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Falcons rolling — again

Staff report

Prep basketball notebook …

West Rowan’s boys are 8-0 in the NPC heading into tonight’s home game with Statesville and still have a chance to go undefeated in conference play for the sixth time in school history.

West ran the table in the 2A Yadkin Valley Conference in 1993-94. The Falcons were also undefeated four seasons in a row in 3A leagues. That 58-0 stretch of dominance started with the 1999-2000 SPC season and lasted through the 2002-03 NPC campaign.

West reeled off 65 straight regular-season conference wins between a tight loss to Charlotte Harding in the spring of 1999 and an overtime setback to Lake Norman in its 2003-04 NPC opener.

West, which is relying heavily on freshmen and sophomores, isn’t home-free in this season’s conference race. The Falcons lead by two games, but they have challenging road contests on the horizon — at sizzling West Iredell on Friday and at nemesis Northwest Cabarrus next Tuesday.

West is shooting for its 12th conference title in the last 15 seasons, so when coach Mike Gurley, who has been at the helm for seven of those titles, constantly talks about “that great West tradition” it’s more than idle chatter.

West has experienced one losing season since 1985. That stat is almost as impressive as the school’s three state-championship banners.

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THEY’RE HOT: West (15-2) has won seven straight games and hasn’t lost to a team outside the county. West lost at East Rowan and to Salisbury in the Christmas tournament.

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JAMEL UPDATE: West senior Jamel Carpenter scored 25 points in Friday’s victory over North Iredell and has tallied 1,216 points during his career.

Carpenter stands fifth on the Falcons’ all-time scoring list. Alphonso “Snip” Keaton is fourth with 1,251 points.

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OUCH: East Rowan’s boys took an 88-62 beating at R.J. Reynolds on Saturday, but the Mustangs are still 16-2 and off to the best start in school history.

Reynolds and East have one loss apiece in the league. East plays third-place North Davidson, a very hot team, at home on Friday. East edged the Black Knights 55-52 in Welcome.

North Davidson star Howard Hurt has recovered from back woes.

East is unbeaten on its home floor.

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SPENSER UPDATE: Davis probably had his worst game of the season when he was under the weather when East beat Reynolds 76-70 in Granite Quarry, but he probably had his best game in Saturday’s loss, carrying the Mustangs with 24 points and 13 rebounds.

When no else could score, Davis drove often and converted a series of twisting layups and free throws.

“Spenser was amazing, fantastic,” East coach Greg McKenzie said. “Without him, we don’t score 30.”

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LOOKING AHEAD: There were similarities in East’s setback to Reynolds and its 83-61 loss to Charlotte Vance in last season’s 4A state playoffs. Namely, East faced a more athletic team that put serious pressure on Mustang shooters on one end and couldn’t miss on the other.

“We’ll learn from this game for the playoffs,” McKenzie promised.

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VANDERFORD UPDATE: Junior guard Justin Vanderford scored 16 points at Reynolds and now has 938 for his career. He is already the No. 6 scorer in school history. Mark Kesler, who played in the early 1970s, is No. 5 with 966 points.

Vanderford is on track to become East’s all-time leading scorer. His brother, Alstin, currently owns that honor with 1,346 points.

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SECOND THOUGHTS: East practiced a box-and-one defense prior to its trip to Reynolds, with a defender (probably Davis) harassing Reynolds shooter Mark Stevenson.

McKenzie decided at game-time to go with East’s standard 3-2 zone instead, and it didn’t work out when Stevenson got on a roll. He buried six 3-pointers in the first half.

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HE’S BACK: Senior Brian Ingold (broken hand) returned to East’s rotation at Reynolds.

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NO BREATHERS: West Rowan’s girls may have the toughest schedule in the Piedmont the next two days, taking on two teams ranked in the state.

West is at home against NPC front-runner Statesville tonight and plays at CCC co-leader Salisbury tomorrow.

Statesville and Salisbury split. Besides those meetings, they’ve lost one game apiece.

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LONG TIME, NO SEE: When A.L. Brown’s boys won 64-60 at Salisbury recently, it was the Wonders’ first visit to the SHS gym since the Hornets beat them 59-56 in overtime early in the 1992-93 season. Bobby Phillips, the leading scorer in Salisbury history and a future Southern Conference Player of the Year at Western Carolina, hit the game-winning shot.

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