Prep Basketball: Mount Tabor boys 72, East Rowan 68

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 2, 2007

By Nick Bowton

Salisbury Post

WINSTON-SALEM — East Rowan coach Greg McKenzie said after his Mustangs edged West Forsyth earlier this week that if East was going to lose another game in the regular season, he thought that was the one.

Mount Tabor coach Andy Muse saw the quote — and made sure his players did too.

Then the Spartans went out and made sure the Mustangs did lose another game. East scored only three points in the second quarter and never fully recovered in a 72-68 loss Friday.

“The second time you play teams, they’re gonna play you better,” McKenzie said. “We blew ’em out the first time. We blew out West Forsyth; we had to go to overtime to beat ’em the other night. And I don’t think our defense is that bad, but teams are really playing well against us.

“Mount Tabor played great tonight. They could have beaten a lot of teams tonight the way they played.”

They beat East (18-3, 8-2 CPC) for a variety of reasons.

Sophomore guards C.J. Harris and Michael Grace scored 21 and 20 points, respectively. Tabor stopped the Mustangs from penetrating better than anyone has all season. And the Spartans (12-10, 6-4) held a rebounding advantage from the first quarter.

Those factors led to a dismal second quarter for East. The Mustangs made only one field goal in the quarter, and that came with 1:53 remaining. East went into halftime with a 37-23 deficit.

“For some reason the second quarter has been our nemesis a lot,” McKenzie said. “When you’re not getting shots you’re accustomed to, and you’re not forcing turnovers, and you’re not rebounding, that’s what happens.”

McKenzie gave credit to the Spartans for all of those facets of the game. Grace and Harris handled East’s pressure better than they did in the first meeting, and the Spartans guarded East’s shooters better as well.

Justin Vanderford (18 points), Kenan McKenzie (13), Kurt Misenheimer (13) and Shawn Eagle (12) all got open at times, but they didn’t find the same flow to their offense that they usually do.

“They changed it up,” East point guard Spenser Davis said. “They were playing good help D, and at the same time they were guarding our shooters so I really couldn’t kick it out.

“It was just a good defensive scheme they had.”

Still, it wasn’t enough to stop East from rallying.

The Mustangs made six 3s in the final quarter and got within 70-68 on a Misenheimer jumper with 20 seconds left.

Two missed free throws then gave East a chance to tie or win with 13 seconds left and no timeouts. Davis drove to the basket and tried to draw a foul but missed an acrobatic layup.

Grace, who went 10-for-10 from the free-throw line, iced the game with two foul shots with a second remaining.

“One thing that motivated us,” Muse said, “is a quote that Coach McKenzie had from his game against West Forsyth: ‘If we were gonna lose one in the regular season, I think this was it. From now on, I think we oughtta be all right.’

“I’m glad they weren’t all right tonight.”

east rowan (68) — Vanderford 18, Misenheimer 13, McKenzie 13, Eagle 12, Davis 7, Ingold 5, Wilson, Holmes, Wilhelm.

mount tabor (72) — Harris 21, Grace 20, Griffith 15, Delapp 8, MacDonald 6, Hardin 2, Karpinski, Godwin, Downey.

E. Rowan 20 3 20 25 — 68

Mt. Tabor 18 19 16 19 — 72

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Contact Nick Bowton at 704-797-4256 or nbowton@salisburypost.com.

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