Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 22, 2008

By Mike London
Salisbury Post
Prep hoops notebook …
West Rowan’s dominating 61-47 victory over Northwest Cabarrus’ boys on Friday had coach Mike Gurley smiling for two reasons.
It was the seventh straight victory for West (14-3), and Northwest has historically been a tough assignment for Gurley’s teams.
Gurley’s record at West is 243-59, and the Trojans have accounted for nine of those losses. They’ve beaten Gurley’s Falcons more than any other school.
East Rowan has accounted for seven of Gurley’s losses, and like the Trojans they’ve beaten the Falcons at least once in each of the past five seasons.
North Rowan coach Kelly Everhart has come out on top against Gurley six times, with half those wins coming in 2000-01 when the Cavaliers were 27-1.
Lake Norman and South Rowan own five victories apiece over Gurley-coached West teams.
Salisbury, Davie County, A.L. Brown, Mooresville and Statesville have managed three victories apiece against the Falcons since Gurley took the reins prior to the 1997-98 season.
Gurley was 21-29 in two rebuilding seasons (2003-04 and 2004-05) that followed his pair of unbeaten state-championship teams. He’s lost only 30 games in his other nine seasons at West.
CROWNED: West players attired in their Sunday best made quite a spectacle when the Mr. West Rowan contest took place at halftime of Friday’s girls game. Football linebacker Robert Kepley was an upset winner, outpolling basketball favorites such as K.J. Sherrill and Chris Smith.
MOVING UP: Sherrill, a 6-foot-6 junior, produced his standard 20 points, 17 rebounds and priceless intimidation in the victory against the Trojans. He is averaging 17.9 points a game and has scored in double figures in his last 10 outings.
Sherrill has scored 831 career points and could become the 12th Falcon, and the sixth during Gurley’s tenure, to score 1,000 points before the end of the season. He currently ranks 16th on West’s all-time scoring list. The quiet colossus surpassed Eugene Hogue and Ryan “Bam Bam” Mattox on Friday.
A FEW BRICKS: West missed 12 free throws in the fourth quarter on Friday, but the Falcons made 14 and also rebounded several misses that enabled them to return to the line.
Those foul-line numbers would have made some coaches cry, but it was progress for the Falcons.
Defense, not free-throw shooting, is their forte.
“Our free-throw numbers?” boomed Gurley. “Hey, 19-for-34 tonight. I’m ecstatic about it.”
BUSY BARBERS: The West-Northwest doubleheader featured three head coaches with shaved heads, which probably tied some sort of record.
Girls coaches Erich Epps (West) and Anthony Rose joined Gurley with the Mr. Clean look. Northwest boys coach Daniel Jenkins was the odd man out.
SECOND HELPING: West’s boys are tied for second with Northwest, two games behind NPC frontrunner East Rowan, which is still perfect in the league.
East, seeking its first regular-season title in 20 years, still has road games at Mooresville (Tuesday), Lake Norman (Friday), Northwest and West, so the race is far from over.
If West can’t make up its two-game deficit, a second-place finish still wouldn’t be a bad omen. The last time West finished second in its league (1997) it won the state championship.
HOMECOURT EDGE: Like East, West’s boys are unbeaten at home.
The Falcons’ crowd was frenzied and intimidating on Friday, and many fans were close enough to the court to converse personally with Northwest’s shooters. They cheerfully let them know they weren’t going to make a shot until they left Mount Ulla.
West even got a boost from the dance team, which entertained for several minutes at halftime after the Trojans emerged from their locker room. As the Trojans sat on their bench, waiting impatiently for a chance to take a few get-loose shots, the usually calm Jenkins looked like he was ready to spit nails.
REVENGE TOUR: West’s girls made the turn in the NPC with a 3-6 record, but fourth place remains a realistic goal.
West has already avenged losses to North Iredell and Northwest Cabarrus to climb to 5-6, and with the emergence of freshman Ayana Avery, Epps’ team has a chance against everyone.
West takes on the best team in the league ó Statesville ó on Tuesday, but with Avery, Peyton Sawyer, Mila Simmons, Brooke Taylor and Erin Foster, the Falcons are the one NPC squad that has as much speed as the Greyhounds.
SENIOR LEADERSHIP: Seniors Taylor and Jerica Sherrill may have played their best games of the season in Friday’s 57-38 victory over Northwest.
Taylor has quietly averaged 12.4 points a game and has been in double figures 11 times.
She has scored 592 points in her three-year varsity career. She’ll become the 26th West girl to reach the 600-points milestone.
CONSISTENT: West’s girls won their 10th game on Friday and secured the program’s 18th consecutive season with double-digit wins.
HOT HANDS: Salisbury’s girls beat North Rowan 93-30 on Friday. It was the fifth time the Hornets have topped 90 points in the last five seasons.
The Hornets approached the school record that was set in a 96-35 victory over Lexington in 2006-07.
PILING UP POINTS: Salisbury’s girls average 69.8 points a game, a pace that would shatter the school record of 62.6 set by the undefeated 2003-04 team.
If the Hornets maintain their rampage, they’ll be the second-highest scoring team in modern county history, and they aren’t far behind the record holder.
Coach Toni Wheeler’s West girls averaged 70.7 per game while putting up a 23-5 record in 2003-04. Seven girls ó Hillary Hampton, Jac White, Brittany Roberson, Rashonda Mayfield, Paris Rucker, Keionna Mills and Tanunika Imes ó scored more than 100 points.
Reneé Roberson chipped in with 98.
EASY AS 1-2-3: Salisbury’s Kwameshia Hicks (14.6 points a game), Shi-Heria Shipp (14.1) and Bubbles Phifer (13.8) rank 1-2-3 in the county in scoring.
Hicks, a senior, poured in 27 points against North for her fifth 20-plus game of the season.
Hicks has 795 career points. She ranks ninth in Salisbury history.
MILESTONE: Senior guard Meisha Fowler scored 18 points to lead Davie’s girls to a 63-54 victory at R.J. Reynolds on Friday.
It was the best offensive performance of the season for Davie’s girls, who managed just 16 points in an early outing against Salisbury.
Fowler lifted her career points total to 998 and should get her 1,000th at home this week against North Forsyth.
UPSET: A.L. Brown’s boys lost at Anson 76-64 on Friday and threw the battle for second place in the SPC into a free-for-all between the Wonders, Sun Valley, Porter Ridge and Marvin Ridge.
“Anson’s very athletic, and we just didn’t shoot the ball well at all,” Brown coach Shelwyn Klutz said.
T.J. Johnson was a bright spot for the Wonders with a career-high 20 points.
WORKING OVERTIME: South’s boys lost in overtime to Statesville on Friday, while the South girls fell in double overtime. Another long night in the NPC.
South’s boys (2-15) have also lost in overtime to East Rowan in the Christmas tournament. Other losses were 62-60 to Salisbury, 62-59 to Mooresville and 48-46 to West Rowan.
The 1976-77 South team can still claim to be the most snakebitten in school history. The Raiders lost 43-42 to East in the Christmas tournament and 49-47 to Davie in the NPC tournament. During the regular season, that squad lost 43-42 to North Rowan in two overtimes and 70-66 to North Davidson in a five-overtime marathon.
Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or