Prep Basketball: South Rowan boys 62, East Rowan 59
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY ó East Rowan’s all-time leading scorer Justin Vanderford had his No. 1 jersey retired on Friday.
The ceremony marked changing times. East was 12-0 against South Rowan with Vanderford on the floor, but South broke a hex with a 62-59 NPC victory.
“When it was over, I turned to Hunter (Morrison) and said, ‘Man, I don’t remember ever beating those guys,’ ” South senior Reid Shaver said.
With good reason. South’s last win over the Mustangs came early in the 2003-04 season when Shaver was a seventh-grader. Coach John Davis’ crew got 38 points from twins Andrew and Matt Misenheimer to win that one 67-59, but it’s been a dry spell since East coach Greg McKenzie ó and Vanderford ó appeared in Granite Quarry.
“We didn’t really talk about that because this is a new team and a new year,” Davis said. “We knew coming in here, it would be loud and hot and a tough place to play, but our guys represented themselves and their school very well.”
It came down to the end. East had the ball with 3.7 seconds left and a chance to tie with a 3-pointer, but Daniel Plummer had to take a desperation turnaround jumper from the left corner that was heavily defended by B.J. Grant. Time expired as players fought for the rebound.
East (4-4, 3-3) limited the high-scoring Morrison to 13 points, but Shaver scored 14. John Davis, the coach’s son, kept scrapping his way to the foul line and got nine of his 12 points on free throws. Steven Johnson knocked down three 3s for the Raiders (5-3, 3-2).
South’s balance overcame a great effort by Plummer, who had 23 points and 10 boards. Brian Grohman added 12 points for East on 6-for-7 shooting.
“They made more perimeter shots, they rebounded better than we did, and I felt like they played closer to their potential than we did,” McKenzie said.
East had an early 13-7 lead, but Shaver hit back-to-back 3s to trigger a 13-0 South run. Blake Houston hit a 3, Morrison scored, and Davis hit a 3 for a 21-13 lead after a quarter.
“We’re ahead seven, and then I look up and say, ‘Wow, is that score right?’ ” McKenzie said.
It was right, and the Raiders never lost the lead. South weathered 3-for-17 shooting in the second quarter to lead 32-28 at halftime.
South had trouble with Plummer early when it played man-to-man, but its 1-3-1 zone was tough in the second half.
“We’ve been using it lately, we’ve stuck with it, and it’s kind of dominated,” Shaver said. “But it was a dogfight.”
South led 59-54 when Caleb Allen hit a big 3 with 1:12 remaining. That shot gave East a chance for one last push.
“I put it up quick and it felt good,” Allen said. “It gave us momentum. I felt like we were gonna win this thing.”
When Grohman scored on a feed from Will Mancil, East pulled within 60-59 with 54 seconds left.
Shaver made a free throw for a two-point South lead, then blocked a shot by Phillip Ajayi. Ajayi got the ball back, but missed again, and Davis was fouled fighting for the rebound. His free throw made it 62-59 with 14 seconds left.
Plummer was trapped by Shaver and Davis against the sideline and nearly tied up, and East lost valuable seconds. With 3.7 seconds left, Plummer had to let it fly from the corner. South figured he’d be the guy taking the shot and had him well-defended.
“Two 4-3 teams, we knew it would be tight, and it was,” Plummer said. “Tough game.”
SOUTH ROWAN (62) ó Shaver 14, Morrison 13, Davis 12, Johnson 9, Walker 6, Houston 5, Grant 3, Corriher.EAST ROWAN (59) ó Plummer 23, Grohman 12, Allen 5, Weber 5, Ajayi 4, McKenzie 4, Mancil 3, Slater 3, Honeycutt, Morton, Moore. S. Rowan 21 11 14 16 ó 62
E. Rowan 13 15 12 19 ó 59
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