Prep Basketball: West Rowan boys 83, South Rowan 61
By Mike London
MOUNT ULLA óKaleb Kimber kept drilling 3s, K.J. Sherrill kept ruling the paint, coach Mike Gurley kept cheerfully screaming and deep West Rowan kept swarming defensively.
West (6-0, 3-0) offered more evidence on Monday it has its best team since the 61-0, back-to-back, state-championship days. The Falcons blistered a pretty good South Rowan squad 83-61 to stay perfect and nail down the No. 1 seed for the Sam Moir Christmas Classic.Even the overflow, holiday crowd that shoehorned its way into the snug West gym was like old times.
Kimber hit five 3s and scored 21 points. Sherrill had 18 points. The Falcons also got a combined 30 from reserves Jon Crucitti, Keshun Sherrill and Jordan Kimber, as Gurley threw 14 healthy bodies at the Raiders.
“If we keep everybody on the same page, we’ll be tough to beat,” Gurley said. “I almost hate saying that, but everybody’s already trying pretty hard to beat us.”
Slick guard Hunter Morrison scored 23 points for South (5-4, 3-3), but 18 came in the second half with the issue no longer in doubt.
South has played well on the road this year and traded baskets with the taller Falcons for a quarter.
West’s lead was only 17-15 early in the second quarter, but Myles Moore hit a 3, the 6-foot-7 Sherrill nailed a sweet fadeaway jumper, Kaleb Kimber sent an arcing 3 knifing through the net, and the Falcons were off on a major run.
It was 39-25 at halftime and pretty obvious South was facing an uphill struggle.
“Our guys can correct a lot of things they were doing wrong,” South coach John Davis said. “But they can’t just grow another 5 or 6 inches.”
By the end of the third quarter, it was 64-41, and some were making their way toward the parking lot.
Gurley, Davis, Kaleb Kimber and Morrison all agreed K.J. Sherrill’s size, reach, muscle and shooting touch were the biggest difference in the game.
“Even when he’s not scoring a lot, K.J. is an inside presence that’s tough to play against,” Morrison said.
Davis guessed Sherrill scored 30 and was amazed he had “only” 18.
“We had no answer for the big guy inside,” he said. “The times we did seal him off he did a good job of kicking the ball out for a wide-open look. There were times in the past he might float around the perimeter, but tonight he went inside, sat on that block and controlled the game.”
Historically, South has done a nice job against Sherrill. He’d averaged 9.8 points a game in six previous meetings, but he was dominant as Gurley raised his coaching record against South to 23-5.”The thing about K.J. is he creates a whole lot of open shots for us,” Kaleb Kimber said. “I had open shots all night. Defensively, he was even more important, and when we play tough defense, we’re a very good team.”
Morrison is terrific with the ball and had the crowd buzzing in the second half when he stroked four 3s and drove and dished for layups around his back and behind his head. But it was just stat-time and showtime at that point, and he knew it.
“The first half West did a great job sagging off me and stopping penetration,” Morrison said. “I had looks, but I didn’t hit my outside shots and the other guys weren’t knocking down the 3s like they do some nights.
“West is just going to be tough all year for everyone. That’s a really athletic team, and they have a lot of good basketball players.”Gurley who has stirred veterans, freshmen and a half-dozen state-championship football players into an interesting brew, recognizes it’s early and the season is long, but he likes what he sees.
“South did some good things with their dribble-drives and weakside rebounding,” he said. “But we got some real steady play from our veterans to start the second half and pulled away.”
south rowan (61) ó Morrison 23, Shaver 8, Houston 8, Walker 7, Davis 6, Johnson 6, Corriher 3, Grant.
west rowan (83) ó K. Kimber 21, J. Sherrill 18, Crucitti 12, K. Sherrill 10, J. Kimber 8, Gore 6, Moore 5, B.J. Sherrill 2, Grant 1, Smith, Phifer, Huffman, Cuthbertson, Noble.S. Rowan 13 12 16 20 ó 61
W. Rowan 17 22 25 19 ó 83