Prep Basketball: West Rowan boys 76, Lake Norman 60
By David Shaw
MOORESVILLE — Now that’s the way to make people forget about your first conference loss.
The West Rowan boys basketball team bounced back from Tuesday’s unsettling defeat against Northwest Cabarrus with a convincing 76-60 NPC victory at Lake Norman on Friday.
“To come in here and play as hard as we did and play together was gutty — especially coming off a loss,” coach Mike Gurley said after West (19-3, 11-1) prevailed in the Wildcats’ hangar of gym for the first time since 2003. “The doomsayers all want to know what’s wrong, what’s going on, what’s the problem, yada-yada-yada.
“I think our guys overlooked all that and came in with the idea of beating Lake Norman.”
The first-place Falcons weren’t about to be denied.
“That last game was our motivation,” K.J. Sherrill said after scoring all but one of his 19 points in the second half. “We were going to beat whoever we were playing tonight.”
Lake Norman (15-7, 9-3) made it a game for one quarter, sharpshooting its way to a 21-19 lead.
“After that,” Wildcats coach Rich Tinucci said, “they just put on a clinic.”
It began when senior Jamel Carpenter flushed a 3-pointer from the left corner early in the second quarter. Moments later he penetrated the lane and scored on a scoop layup that gave West a 27-25 lead it never relinquished.
“We needed this game, and we needed to win here,” Carpenter said after netting a game-best 22 points. “This gym has always been haunted for me. It’s the first I’ve won here since I’ve been playing for West Rowan.”
Teammate Chris Smith came off the bench and scored seven of his career-high 15 points in the second quarter, helping the Falcons race to a 41-28 halftime lead.
“I got every rebound I could, fought for position and made my free throws,” the 6-foot-3 freshman said. “I just had to finish tonight.”
Gurley, who applauded the West defensive effort — particularly a second quarter in which Lake Norman failed to make a basket in the last 3:20 — spent much of the evening imploring his team to slow down.
“In the Northwest Cabarrus game we were either standing around and not moving, or we were moving too out of control,” he said. “And even though we were dialed in tonight, there were spots where we were too quick. My favorite expression is ‘There’s no seven-second shot clock.’ Sometimes we must think there is.”
By the third quarter it hardly mattered. Sherrill began playing like an assertive, 6-7 forward by hitting a pair of layups and four free throws as the West margin grew to 14 points. He added 10 points in the fourth quarter.
“I started driving hard and getting fouled and knocking down the free throws,” Sherrill said. “And on defense we weren’t letting them shoot 3s and we contested every drive down the middle.”
The drive home was certainly a pleasant one for the Falcons. They used an 11-0 run to build a 67-44 lead with 5:54 remaining, then watched Smith muscle inside for an offensive rebound and stickback that made it 76-53 with 2:02 to play.
“When we scored only seven (points) in the second quarter, we had to change our philosophy,” Tinucci said after the gym had emptied. “We switched from a 2-3 zone to a man-to-man — and they handled the pressure well. The better team won.”
Most importantly, with a week left in the regular season West looks every bit like a first-place team.
“We may not have looked it the other night,” Gurley concluded. “But when that game ended we were still a first-place team. That’s the point I tried to make.”
Consider it made.
WEST ROWAN (76) — Carpenter 22, K.Sherrill 19, Smith 15, Kimber 9, Parks 8, Martin 3, Charleston, Browning, Stricklin, Lyerly, W.Sherrill, Bradshaw.
LAKE NORMAN (60) — Hayes 14, Bowen 12, Lemke 8, Bowers 7, Cote 6, Redmond 5, McCain 4, Little 2, Cook 2.
West Rowan 19 22 17 18 — 76
L.Norman 21 7 16 16 — 60
Contact David Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org.