Published 12:00 am Monday, January 14, 2008

From staff reportsThe prep basketball notebook …West Rowan’s boys have carved out a 13-3 record despite posting the lowest offensive numbers during coach Mike Gurley’s 11 seasons. West has topped 60 points only twice.
The Falcons average 53.4 points a game. None of Gurley’s previous teams averaged fewer than 60 points a game. His 2001-02 state champs averaged a scary 82.7 per outing.
Obviously, defense is the cornerstone for the Falcons this season. They’re 13-0 when holding opponents to 50 or fewer points and 0-3 when an opponent breaks 50.
West is allowing 49.2 points a game, a figure that is that high only because it has allowed 65 twice.
The best defensive number posted by one of Gurley’s previous teams at West was the 50.6 points a game permitted by his 2002-03 state champions.
No West team since the 1968 NPC championship club has allowed fewer than 50 points a game, but the current group of Falcons could change that.
While South Rowan’s boys are 2-14 overall and 1-9 in the NPC, coach John Davis hasn’t thrown in the towel.
“We were looking at the second half like we were 0-0 and it was a brand new season,” Davis said Friday. “Now we’re 0-1 (after losing to Northwest Cabarrus), but we have the intention of winning the rest of them.”
South entered this season with only two players (Derek Davis and Bo Caldwell) who had played major varsity minutes. But juniors Hunter Morrison, Reid Shaver and Jabin Wilson have made serious strides, as well as sophomore B.J. Grant, and South is likely to move up in the standings in 2008-09.
“Next year รณ that could be pretty fun for us,” John Davis said.
As far as this season, the Raiders still aren’t out of the playoff chase because the 10-team NPC gets six berths.
Five of those spots will go to East, West, Northwest, Mooresville and Lake Norman unless something amazing happens, but the sixth berth is up for grabs.
Statesville (3-7), North Iredell (2-8), Carson (2-8), West Iredell (2-8) or South is going to the playoffs.
RESPECT: Northwest boys coach Daniel Jenkins didn’t think his second-place team played badly at all, but it had a hard time shaking South in a 72-59 victory.
“I thought we played very good team ball, and, like we’ve done lately, about 75 percent of our baskets came off assists,” he said. “But South had nothing to lose. They’re always scrappy, but tonight they were extra scrappy. They made us a better team because we had to match their toughness.”
EXPERIENCE COUNTS: South’s Katherine Van Wieren, Kim Wilson, Katie Wise and Taylor May have been in plenty of tight games over the years.
That foursome’s collective experience probably saved South in Friday’s 49-47 road victory against Northwest.
Northwest coach Anthony Rose said his team played its best ball all season in the loss, and South easily could have panicked in “The Pit” when the Trojans started raining 3s and the Raiders went from 12 points ahead to one point behind in a hurry.
South coach Jim Brooks drew up a critical inbounds play for Van Wieren in the final minute. The Trojans took away the first option, but Wise made an adjustment and Nikki Graham found her for a layup.
Then Wise made the game-winning stickback just before the final buzzer.
“A game like this, you’re just glad you’ve got a bunch of seniors,” Brooks said. “It’s very hard to win a ballgame down here.”
BIG WIN: It was a humongous victory for South’s girls because it gave the Raiders a sweep of Northwest.
South is now tied for fourth with North Iredell at 6-4 and almost a lock to land one of the NPC’s six playoff berths, while the Trojans are deadlocked for sixth place with West Rowan.
Northwest nipped the Falcons in a wild finish in “The Pit,” but the Trojans are in danger of missing the playoffs if they lose the rematch in Mount Ulla.
BIG STEAL: South senior Lauren Houston had only one basket in the Northwest game, but it was a big one.
Houston’s best sport is track, and she has some quickness. She jumped in front of an inbounds pass and made a third-quarter layup that pushed a one-point South lead to three.
Salisbury senior John Handy entered this season with a career high of five points, and he averaged 1.13 points through the Hornets’ first 15 games.
Friday night, however, Handy scored in double figures for the first time, contributing 13 points and seven rebounds in a 74-69 loss to Lexington. Handy, who’s 6-foot-7, had 11 points and six rebounds in the second half.
“He was huge,” Salisbury coach Jason Causby said. “He’s that one kid that you know there’s gonna come a time where they’re gonna have an opportunity to really step up and step out. During that process, building up to that, they get frustrated because every kid thinks they should be on the floor the whole game. I told him just yesterday, ‘John, your persistence will pay off. You’re gonna get rewarded. Just keep working hard.’
“We always try him in spots. It’s like he’s the other team’s best rebounder because he’s batting it to them. But tonight he went out there and played his butt off. I told him that’s something he’s gotta build off of. Handy was a huge bright spot.”
TOO TALL: The Hornets needed every bit of Handy’s performance Friday because they were getting dominated inside by Lexington’s Dejwan Davis early in the game. Davis is listed at 6-8.
“He’s definitely a load,” Causby said. “He’s huge. There was one time in the first half when we didn’t even pick him up. He’s standing under the basket wide open. I was like, ‘How do you miss the biggest human being in the whole 28144 zip code?’ He’s the biggest guy in a 10-block radius, and he’s standing under the basket by himself.
“That was a time that we were just kind of in a daze.”
A.L. Brown’s boys mirror Gurley’s Falcons.
Coach Shelwyn Klutz took over at Brown the same season Gurley took the reins at West. Both coaching veterans are showing they can adjust to their personnel.
Usually a free-wheeling bunch that outruns opponents with 1,000-point scorers such as Avery Patterson and Garrett Sherrill, the Wonders have turned the page and are winning this season with grinding defense.
They are 11-3, with two of those losses to undefeated and top-ranked Concord.
In seven of their wins, the Wonders have held opponents to less than 50 points.
Northwest’s Jenkins said A.L. Brown’s man-to-man defense is as good as any he’s faced this season.
It’s not easy to get a handle on the CCC boys.
Let’s see, now.
North Rowan blasted West Davidson by 25 points, but the Green Dragons beat Ledford on Friday on a last-second, 55-foot shot by Jon Jarvis.
That’s the same Ledford squad that has knocked off Lexington and Salisbury.
Maybe that makes Central Davidson the team to beat. The Spartans have taken care of North and Ledford. Then again, Central lost to Salisbury in overtime.
The Central-Lexington and North-Salisbury games scheduled for Friday should help sort things out a little.
GIRLS: The CCC girls are a whole lot less complicated.
Ledford is 4-1 in the league and clearly the third-best team, but no one is going to make East Davidson (a 57-15 winner on Friday) or Salisbury, which won 81-26, break a sweat.
East Davidson’s visit to Salisbury on Jan. 29 will determine if the Golden Eagles are going to run the CCC table or if Salisbury is going to share the crown.
Salisbury supporters who jumped off ledges after the Hornets lost at East Davidson probably should be reminded that Salisbury also lost at East Davidson last season.
As it turned out, it wasn’t the end of the world.
TOUGH TIMES: North’s only two wins came at the expense of Carson, while Carson’s lone victory came against North.
Central Davidson’s girls broke a lengthy CCC losing streak when they edged North 39-37 on Thursday.
North lost leading scorer and rebounder Quon Cuthbertson to a knee injury in that game.
Senior Meisha Fowler is making slow, but sure, progress toward 1,000 points.
She’s scored only 21 in her last five games combined, but she has 980 for her four-year career.
Mike London and Nick Bowton contributed to the notebook.