Prep Basketball: West Rowan boys 75, West Iredell 73
By Bret Strelow
STATESVILLE — West Rowan’s players exited the locker room one-by-one.
Falcon fans waited around and cheered for each one even though only a handful of lights in West Iredell’s gym were still burning by the time K.P. Parks joined the rest of his teammates on the floor.
The outcome displeased most of the people who packed the Warriors’ gym Friday night. West Rowan maintained its unbeaten NPC record by beating West Iredell in a 75-73 thriller.
The Falcons trailed 73-69 with less than a minute remaining but scored six unanswered points in the final 45.2 seconds. A layup by Parks with 14 seconds remaining put first-place West Rowan (18-2, 10-0) ahead for good.
“We knew this was going to be a tough environment,” West Rowan coach Mike Gurley said. “A lot of what helped us down the stretch was the understanding that this was not a surprise. We knew this was going to be one heck of a ballgame.”
The Falcons applied fullcourt pressure after Parks’ layup gave West Rowan a 74-73 lead, and Jamel Carpenter (team-high 23 points) stole a crosscourt pass at midcourt with eight seconds left.
He made his second free-throw attempt with 4.5 seconds left, and West Iredell’s Quan Rucker (game-high 28 points) drew a foul shy of midcourt with 2.6 seconds remaining.
Rucker missed the first attempt, and West Rowan called timeout. Rucker, hoping a West Iredell teammate could rebound an intentional miss, lofted his second shot high into the air. The ball bounced off the rim twice before Carpenter secured the rebound. Time then ran out.
“We did everything humanly possible to win that game,” said West Iredell coach Brian Cantrell, whose team entered the contest tied for second place in the league.
The Falcons led most of the way even though their advantage never extended beyond seven points. The Warriors (14-5, 7-3) trailed 67-63 with 2:18 left, but Carpenter fouled Rucker on a shot attempt. Carpenter slammed the ball in frustration and drew a technical foul.
Rucker made four straight free throws to tie the game, but West Rowan went back ahead on two free throws by Carpenter with 1:54 left.
West Iredell’s P.J. Clyburn hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:41 remaining, and Michael Watkins added a free throw after a West Rowan turnover.
Carpenter missed a 3-pointer on the Falcons’ next trip, and a putback by Ben McLain gave the Warriors a four-point lead with 56 seconds left.
“All I know is you play basketball until the buzzer goes off,” Carpenter said.
Parks made one free throw with 45 seconds left, and West Iredell missed a quick shot at the other end. Carpenter used his left hand to acrobatically tip in a missed layup with 29.4 seconds left, and the Warriors committed a traveling violation against the Falcons’ pressure.
Parks fed Carpenter on the right wing during West Rowan’s next possession, but Carpenter pitched the ball back to the top of the key as he dribbled to his left. Parks, who had already been called for two charges, slashed through the lane and scored the go-ahead bucket.
“They all went out on Jamel, so that just left me wide open,” Parks said. “I just took it real hard to the basket.
“Good teams get down, but you have to know how to finish.”
The win finished off a fine week for West Rowan.
It beat Statesville 96-68 on Tuesday and defeated Salisbury 68-36 on Wednesday.
“This week,” Gurley said, “I told the team, ‘Let’s be audacious. Have the nerve and audacity to do something wild and crazy. It would be pretty wild and crazy to win three games in late January.’
“I feel fortunate that these guys really believe in what we’re doing.”
NOTES: The Falcons tried to slow Rucker with a box-and-one for most of the first half, but they went with more man-to-man defense after the break. Willie Sherrill often chased Rucker around the court. … West Rowan freshman Chris Smith made two important steals in the fourth quarter. … Carpenter had six assists.
WEsT ROWAN (75) — Carpenter 23, Parks 16, Kimber 12, K.Sherrill 10, Smith 5, W.Sherrill 4, Bradshaw 3, Stricklin 2, Martin, Browning.
WEST IREDELL (73) — Rucker 28, Watkins 16, Clyburn 14, McLain 13, Clark 2, Thompson, Stackey, Gray, Chastain.
West Rowan 24 18 15 18 — 75
West Iredell 20 15 18 20 — 73
Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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