Prep Basketball: East Rowan boys 62, Carson 50
By Mike London
CHINA GROVE ó Carson’s Josh Doby missed a 3-pointer, and East Rowan’s long-armed Brian Grohman boxed out Darius Moose and rose for one of his 11 defensive rebounds.
East held an overwhelming edge on the boards, benefited from 21 points from Daniel Plummer and beat Carson 62-50 for an NPC road win on Wednesday.
Moose had 16 points and 13 boards for Carson, and Doby scored 13, but the Mustangs didn’t give up anything easy.
East (4-3, 3-2) has no household names, but it has a decent club that’s getting better. It’s been a fun team for Greg McKenzie to coach because expectations outside the program are far lower than in his first four seasons in Granite Quarry.
It was assumed East would win the last few years. This season, every victory is a reason to feel good and slap hands.
“A lot of people don’t know who we are or what we have, so they underestimate us,” Plummer said. “Carson is a tough team with a good coach (Brian Perry), and they’d scouted us, but we played our best so far.”
Phillip Ajayi and Riley Weber scored 10 points each for the Mustangs. East lost Chris McKenzie and Jordan Moore to fouls in the fourth quarter, but Will Mancil did a nice job handling the ball, and Grohman, Plummer and Caleb Allen never stopped yanking down rebounds.
With Moose and Doby, Carson (4-4, 2-3) is the better team on paper, but the Cougars came out cold and lost post man Salih Begic early to an ankle injury. East established its edge on the boards right away, and Chris McKenzie hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give East a 25-22 halftime lead.
“Going in, we thought we’d be able to take advantage of East with our rebounding,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “It turned out the opposite on the glass. They were crashing the boards.”
Greg McKenzie told his team at halftime it had produced “the best half of rebounding” during all his time at East, and his guys kept it rolling.
East avoided launching 3s and got the ball to the paint off the dribble or the pass. The Mustangs were especially efficient in the third quarter when they shot 7-for-10 to take control of the game.
“We never said we weren’t going to take any 3s, but we did look to penetrate more,” Greg McKenzie said. “Plummer has some nice moves, and when he’s got some space to operate and has a guy his size guarding him, he can be really tough. You try to take advantage of mismatches, and he gave us one.”
Grohman had a terrific spree in a pivotal stretch of the third quarter as East scored eight straight to go from a 26-25 deficit to a 33-26 lead. Grohman blocked two shots in that burst and took advantage of solid feeds by Ajayi and Mancil to score three inside buckets.
East looked mostly to Plummer down the stretch, and he responded with nine fourth-quarter points. He managed to finish one driving layup on which an intentional foul was called.
“We wanted to go to the basket, and I just tried to take it up strong every time,” said Plummer, who matched the career-high for points he set in East’s opening-night win against North Davidson.
“Daniel’s been frustrated that he hasn’t been playing well, and the reason has been he’s been trying to hard,” Greg McKenzie said. “Tonight, everything fell into place for him.”
East missed 11 free throws in the fourth quarter, but Carson, which shot 26 percent for the game, couldn’t make a run.
EAST ROWAN (62) ó Plummer 21, Ajayi 10, Weber 10, Grohman 6, Allen 4, McKenzie 4, Moore 3, Mancil 2, Slater 2, Honeycutt.
CARSON (50) ó Moose 16, Doby 13, Houston 7, Ferrare 6, Clanton 4, Heggins 2, Britt 2, Begic, Sewell, Walser. E. Rowan 11 14 16 21 ó 62
Carson 13 9 13 15 ó 50
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