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Gallagher column: Ronnie's roaming the county

Roaming the county getting ready for tonight. …Can we please forget about football now? Can we concentrate on the fast-paced, beautiful game of basketball?
We can? Thank you.
Let’s put West Rowan’s state football championship behind us. There’s a heck of a matchup waiting on area fans tonight when South Rowan travels to East Rowan in a battle of 4-3 teams.
You’ve got the home team, East Rowan, which lost most of its scoring to graduation and is the underdog in most games. That’s why the Mustangs are fun to watch. They’ll beat ya anyway with savvy and fundamentals.
And you’ve got the visiting team, South Rowan, which may be even more fun to watch.
East outrebounded a bigger Carson squad on Wednesday night in China Grove and scored 62 in a 12-point win. It’s a team without stars, just guys who work hard and outthink you.
And just when you think you can make Greg McKenzie’s Mustangs the darlings of the county, you read about South Rowan scoring 35 points in the fourth quarter (wow) to beat A.L. Brown as slick guard Hunter “Machine-Gun” Morrison scored 25 during those final eight minutes (double-wow).
So, John Davis’ Raiders have earned darling status as well.
A packed house is expected in Granite Quarry. It’s the premier game of the night, even with juggernaut West Rowan playing at Carson.

Davis was asked if he had ever seen a 25-point quarter.
“Not from one of my players,” he laughed.
Morrison turned on the fans in Landis by hitting a ton of free throws, shooting layups and knocking down 3-pointers. He finished with 32 points.
“The crowd was into it,” Davis said.
When isn’t the Raider Rowdies into it? They annually form the best student cheering section in the county and Davis says nothing has changed in 2008. He expects a lot of red at East.
“They show up everywhere,” Davis said.

McKenzie seemed befuddled when he heard Morrison went off for 25 in a quarter.
“The first thing that comes to mind is, ‘How did he do it?’ I’m just amazed,” McKenzie exclaimed.
So, Greg, what will you do to stop him.
“My philosophy is not to let the best player beat you,” he said. “We’d probably run combination defenses at him.”
McKenzie then added, “We haven’t practiced stuff like that.”
Uh-oh.

Actually, McKenzie enjoys situations like this. He loves to try and stop a guy who’s seemingly unstoppable.
But that’s just it. South (4-3) is anything but a one-man team this season. In Wednesday’s fourth quarter, everyone was doing his job, according to Davis.
Blake Houston, B.J. Grant, Reid Shaver, Little John Davis and Addison Corriher pitched in as the Raiders rallied from 10 points back.
“We’re a team,” Davis stressed. “Everybody feeds off each other.”
McKenzie said he informed his players that South always plays physical. But Davis says that was back in the Trey Hornbeak-Joel Patterson days.
“We’re more finesse now,” he said.
It seems South will want to run and East might try to slow it down.
McKenzie said this is his tallest team in five years. They’re good rebounders, despite not practicing blocking out once so far.
“We just have a lot of long-armed guys,” McKenzie said.

If you want to watch this entertaining matchup, be at the East gym at, uh, well, who knows when the boys game will start? This is the wacky North Piedmont Conference, where the people in charge would rather play four games at one sight and get the kids home at midnight so they can assure themselves a day off some time during the week.
We’ve joked about it before in this column, but it isn’t even funny anymore.
Davis said he had a game last week that didn’t even start until 9:15 p.m.
Like other coaches, he is not a fan of the four-game thing that puts the varsity starting times at the mercy of how long jayvee games last. It’s nuts.
McKenzie’s with you, John.
Despite being only eight miles from Carson, the Mustangs didn’t get back to school until 10:30 p.m. He then noted that when East played host to Salisbury, the two varsity games started at 6 p.m. with the jayvees at the other site. The teams were out by 9.
Luckily realignment will match four Rowan schools and three Iredell schools in the same league next season so our people can get this changed.
Will they?
Stay tuned.

Carson should be a decided underdog when Mike Gurley’s 4-0 West team comes rolling in. But don’t forget Carson won over the Falcons last year in China Grove. Gurley’s former assistant Brian Perry coaches Carson.

There’s two CCC games as Salisbury travels to Central Davidson and North Rowan goes to Ledford.
It’s an early showdown at Central as the Hornets and Spartans could decide the conference title.
Just for the record, Salisbury has a player of the year candidate in sophomore Darien Rankin, who is playing out of his mind. Nobody is playing better.
Except, of course, for that whirling dervish in Landis who scored 25 in one quarter.

On the air tonight, the dynamic duo of Howard Platt and The Coach, Bob Parker, will make WSTP’s first visit ever to Carson. They’ll broadcast the Falcon-Cougar matchup on 1490 AM.
Go to a game tonight, folks. And be nice.

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com.

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