Prep Basketball: East Rowan boys 82, West Forsyth 78. OT
By David Shaw
GRANITE QUARRY — East Rowan may well be on the road to the state playoffs, but it had to stop and pay a few tolls in its home finale Tuesday night.
The Mustangs needed overtime — and a career-high 41 points and 10 rebounds from Kenan McKenzie — to ward off stubborn West Forsyth
“The last couple games we’ve played good enough to win,” coach Greg McKenzie said after East (18-2, 8-1 CPC) outscored the Titans 17-13 in overtime. “But after the game, our guys haven’t been that excited. Tonight they were. It was a different feeling in the locker room.”
For good reason. East didn’t play its ‘A’ game against West (8-14, 3-7) — a team it hammered 86-64 on Jan. 5 — yet prevailed for the 15th time in the past 16 games. At one point during the second quarter, the Mustangs trailed 18-10 and were 1-for-17 from 3-point range.
“This was one of the worst games we’ve had offensively,” said Kurt Misenheimer, one of four East seniors recognized before tipoff. “And we still came out on top. That says a lot right there. Our defense was the key to this game.”
So was McKenzie, the junior sharpshooter who tied on the red cape and single-handedly lifted the Mustangs to victory. He missed his first four shots, then scored 11 points in a 2:30 span — there were three 3-pointers from the same spot on the left side — helping East grab a 25-24 halftime lead.
“I just kept getting open shots,” he said after draining 9 of 18 3-point attempts. “And they kept getting the ball to me.”
Among those feeding McKenzie were senior Spenser Davis, who fouled out with 40.4 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, and junior Justin Vanderford. Each contributed seven assists.
“Kenan was huge,” Davis said. “Some people had off games, but that’s the beauty of our team. He put us on his back tonight. I owe him a steak dinner for that.”
McKenzie was at his best when it mattered most. He scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, two of them when he converted a steal into a fastbreak layup that gave the Mustangs their largest lead — 58-52 with 2:33 on the clock.
But the Titans tied the score at
65-all and forced overtime when forward Kyle Boardman buried a 3-pointer from the left side with 1.4 seconds to go in regulation.
“They hit a lot of tough shots tonight,” Misenheimer said. “It was just one after another at the end.”
At the end, it was more Kenan McKenzie. The
6-foot-2 swingman tallied his last 10 points in overtime, draining a couple of 3-balls and going
4-of-4 from the free-throw line. When he sank a pair with 1:27 to play, East had the lead for good. Vanderford sealed the deal with five last-minute free throws.
When it was over, the Mustangs were all breathing a collective sigh.
“If we were gonna lose one in the regular season, I think this was it,” Coach McKenzie said. “From now on, I think we’ll be all right.”
Especially Kenan McKenzie, who answered without hesitation when told of Davis’ proposition.
“A steak dinner?” he said. “I’ll take it.”
His teammates felt the same way about winning on a less-than-spectacular night.
NOTES: McKenzie’s 41-point effort nearly tied the school record of 42 set by Rick Vanhoy in 1976. Alstin Vanderford also had 41 in a 2004 game against Statesville. … East converted 11 of 12 free throws in the last 1:27. … The Mustangs finished 12-for-43 on 3-point tries but were 8-for-23 after halftime. … Misenheimer reeled in nine rebounds for East, which closes its conference season with games at Mount Tabor, South Rowan and Davie County. … Among the spectators was Pfeiffer coach Dave Davis, who said he was “looking at everyone.”
west forsyth (78) — Boardman 23, Jones 19, Johnson 13, Bodenheimer 9, P.Kostalic 7, S.Kostalic 3, Morgan 2, Long 2.
east rowan (82) — McKenzie 41, Vanderford 10, Misenheimer 7, Ingold 7, Eagle 6, Holmes 5, Davis 2, Wilson 2, Wilhelm 2.
West Forsyth 11 13 20 21 13 — 78
East Rowan 8 17 21 19 17 — 82
Contact David Shaw at email@example.com.