Moir Christmas Classic: North Rowan boys 49, East Rowan 47
By Ronnie Gallagher
As Tristan Gill’s 3-pointer bounded off the rim, C.J. Fortson settled underneath the basket ó and waited.
He was waiting on teammate Javon Hargrave to get the rebound.
“He’s a monster,” Fortson said. “He’s a beast.”
And a pretty good passer.
Hargrave grabbed Gill’s miss for his 16th rebound and dished to Fortson. He hit a tiebreaking layup with 4.7 seconds left to lift North to a 49-47 win against East Rowan in the fifth-place game of the Sam Moir Christmas Classic on Tuesday.
“I knew he was going to get it to me,” said Fortson, a 6-foot-1 junior. “I credit him for that basket.”
The teams played even most of the way in a game that pitted the Mustangs’ outside shooting against the Cavaliers’ rebounding. In the end, the pounding of the glass won out as North claimed the board battle 41-31.
It gave the Cavs two victories in the tournament.
“To win two close ballgames, I think it gives us confidence going into the meat of our schedule,” North coach Kelly Everhart said. “When things were tight, we held on and finished the game.”
East was hurting.
Head coach Greg McKenzie suspended three players, including top scorer Daniel Plummer.
“Our objective today was unity,” McKenzie said. “Some of the other guys got to play a lot.”
The Mustangs relied on players such as Caleb Allen, Mike Morton and Jesse Slater, who came through. Slater’s short jumper in the lane gave East a 47-46 lead with a minute left.
East (5-5) was hurting even more when 6-4 Brian Grohman fouled out. He left with 17 points and eight boards.
“He’s our guy who can get up with their guys,” McKenzie said.
Gill swished a free throw with 39 seconds left to tie it, and North forced a jump ball with 24 ticks on the clock.
The Cavs worked the ball around until Gill let fly, and Hargrave made the play of the game. Riley Weber’s long heave at the buzzer didn’t draw iron.
“Javon just made a great athletic play going out of bounds,” Everhart said. “C.J. was in the right spot.”
Fortson said he can’t wait to suit up against West Davidson on Friday.
The Cavs (4-6) are 1-0 in the CCC.
“This really boosts our confidence,” he said.
north ROWAN (49) ó Hargrave 12, Bell 9, Fortson 8, Sims 6, Gill 4, Blakeney 3, Overstreet 2, Rudisell 2, Hicks 2, Feezor 1, Smyre, Rhames, Hipps, Vogel.east ROWAN (47) ó Grohman 17, Allen 8, Ajayi 6, Morton 5, Slater 5, Weber 3, McKenzie 3, Honeycutt, Torrence.N. Rowan 15 13 7 14 ó 49
E. Rowan 11 17 5 14 ó 47
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