Prep Basketball: West Rowan boys 68, North Iredell 59
By David Shaw
MOUNT ULLA — West Rowan’s eighth straight NPC victory came with the Union Label attached Friday.
The first-place Falcons provided a night’s worth of strenuous labor and were justly rewarded with a 68-59 win over visiting North Iredell.
“We had to play real hard tonight,” freshman K.P. Parks reasoned, “because our expectations have gotten higher. Effort-wise, this was a really good win.”
It’s a win that put West
(15-2, 8-0 NPC) in the driver’s season as the league season passed its midpoint.
“We’re in a good spot,” said coach Mike Gurley. “We’re where we want to be.”
They got there by trying to throw a fastball past the Raiders (9-7, 3-5) — running their Philadelphia street ball fastbreak and playing smothering sneaker-to-sneaker defense.
“That’s the mantra I’d like,” Gurley said. “I’d like us to be Randy Johnson and throw it a hundred miles-per-hour, i.e. a tight man-to-man. But we’ve had to do a lot of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. We had to drop some curveballs off the table and show people something else, some zones.”
Spring must be in the air because North Iredell dug in and was ready for any offering.
“We played hard and made it a game against a top team,” said coach Tony Davenport, a former guard at Catawba. “It makes me feel good knowing my kids came out here and competed like they did.”
West built a 10-point lead in the second quarter and held a 26-23 edge at halftime. “We came out playing real hard,” said 6-foot-7 K.J. Sherrill. “Then for a while it felt like we gave up, only to get it back again.”
The Falcons, who fell behind on a couple of occasions early in the third quarter, went ahead for good when Parks hit a pair of free throws with 4:07 remaining in the period. A 3-pointer by Zack Martin — selected Mr. West Rowan earlier in the evening — followed by Kaleb Kimber’s jumper from the right side and an authoritative lay-in by Sherrill put West in front 46-40 after three quarters.
“Coming off a serious injury, (Sherrill) has really improved,” said Davenport. “He’s gotten a little bigger since last year and a lot taller — probably two inches. Defensively, they drive you into the big man and he makes you change your shot.”
West was paced by senior Jamel Carpenter, who dropped 25 points on the Raiders. His most significant basket came with 1:56 remaining — after North had trimmed a 13-point deficit to 59-55 on Christopher Tindal’s three-point play. Sherrill sank the first of two free throws to provide a five-point cushion, but bricked the second. Carpenter, positioned on the right side of the lane, soared in for the rebound and hit a decisive layup.
“Being a senior, he just rose to the occasion,” said Gurley. “And he brought Sherrill and Parks with him.”
When it was over, Carpenter wasn’t saying much — he took the modest road and credited his teammates, indicating he was “just happy we pulled it out.”
Gurley, on the other hand, wasn’t saying much about basketball.
“We wanted to throw that Greg Maddux/Tom Glavine stuff at them,” he explained. “But North Iredell wasn’t letting that happen. They pretty much said, ‘You’re gonna throw us the heat, or we’ll knock your curveball into right field all night.'”
No one looked better at the plate than Carpenter. “When it got close,” Gurley said, “he put us on his shoulders and helped us win the ballgame. He got us there.”
NORTH IREDELL (59) — Christopher Tindal 15, Stutts 14, S.Parks 14, Leach 8, Watt 6, Kyles 2.
WEST ROWAN (68) — Carpenter 25, K.Parks 19, K.Sherrill 16, Kimber 5, Martin 3, Charleston, Browning, Smith, Stricklin, Lyerly, W.Sherrill, Bradshaw, Kimbrough.
N. Iredell 10 13 17 19 — 59
W. Rowan 15 11 20 22 — 68
Contact David Shaw at email@example.com.