Prep Basketball: East Rowan boys 55, Mooresville 50

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 2, 2009

By David Shaw
GRANITE QUARRY ó East Rowan’s boys continue to do things the hard way.
The Mustangs coughed up every bit of a 12-point fourth-quarter lead against visiting Mooresville, then rallied for a 55-50 league victory Friday.
“Isn’t it amazing?” coach Greg McKenzie said after East (5-6, 4-3 NPC) produced more turnovers than a 24-hour bakery and still moved into a tie for third place in the league standings. “I keep telling people we’re getting pretty good at nearly pulling defeat out of the jaws of victory. We have tried it several times this year.”This time the Mustangs escaped through the back door by shooting 3-for-8 from the free-throw line in the final 1:10.
Daniel Plummer’s over-and-under layup with with 36 seconds to play ó East’s only field goal in the last 31/2 minutes ó provided a three-point lead and secured the win.
“We started to let it go at the end,” said East junior Riley Weber, who had nine points and 11 rebounds. “We were going down. Everything was going too fast.”Mooresville (3-5, 3-3) played a frantic fourth quarter, when it wiped out a 48-36 deficit. It was 50-40 after Plummer drove for a layup with 3:42 remaining.
All East had to do was employ a four-corners stall and protect the ball. But the Blue Devils ó paced by junior sharpshooter Phillip Hux ó scrambled back to knot it at 50-all on a putback by Jalonde Willis with 1:14 to go.
“We fought back and made it a game,” said Mooresville coach Mike Micklow, whose team forced 32 turnovers. “It’s a shame because this was a huge game for us. We could have separated ourselves from the pack.”
Instead, it was East that marched off feeling like it had stolen Mooresville’s lunch money.
“They were really pressing us in the fourth quarter,” East forward Brian Grohman said. “We needed to pass the ball and be patient. But we didn’t. We panicked ó and fortunately we came through.”
East had 21 turnovers in the first half but still emerged with a 24-23 lead. It seemingly took charge of the game in the third period, when Plummer netted 13 of his 20 points.
Included were back-to-back 3-pointers, the second of which put the Mustangs ahead 40-32.
“I wouldn’t say that was the dagger,” Micklow said. “But it made the hole a little tougher to climb out of.”
Plummer, who struggled in the Christmas tournament at Catawba, credited his teammates for their pinpoint feeds.
“It looked like last year’s team,” he said. “You drive and dish. That’s what our offense was last year ó and it was open today.”
Mooresville received three fourth-quarter 3s from Hux, playing only his fourth game since returning from a foot injury. It was East senior Caleb Allen who put the Mustangs ahead for good when he converted the second of two free throws with 1:10 left. Plummer’s final layup and two Weber free throws sealed the deal.
“I get this feeling all the time,” McKenzie said with a sigh of relief. “The people who come to our games are getting their money’s worth.”
mooresville (50) ó Hux 14, Lester 11, Willis 11, Wilson 6, Ryan 3, Sutton 3, Leach 2. east rowan (55) ó Plummer 20, Grohman 13, Weber 9, Moore 4, Ajayi 3, Allen 3, McKenzie 2, Mancil 1, Slater, Honeycutt.
Mooresville 15 8 11 16 ó 50
E. Rowan 11 13 20 11 ó 55