Prep Basketball: West Iredell boys 71, South Rowan 70

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 2, 2009

By Bill Kiser
LANDIS ó South Rowan boys coach John Davis wants his players to expect to win every game they play, even when they’re behind by double-digit margins.
On Friday night, the Raiders came within seconds of doing just that.
Keith Gray’s running bank shot with 3.3 seconds left lifted West Iredell to a 71-70 NPC win over South, which had rallied from an 11-point deficit in the final eight minutes.
Hunter Morrison scored a game-high 30 points ó 13 came in the fourth quarter ó to lead four players in double figures for the Raiders (6-7, 3-4). B.J. Grant had 12 points, John Davis added 11 and Reid Shaver contributed 10.
“We expect to win,” South coach John Davis said. “That’s what I expect from everyone on the court. If you don’t expect to win, you shouldn’t play. … But this was one heck of a basketball game. People got their money’s worth tonight.”
Quan Rucker scored 21 points to lead West Iredell (8-4, 4-3), which also had four players finish in double figures. Jalen Gray had 12 points, Keith Gray finished with 11 and Marques Stevenson scored 10.
The Raiders led 30-27 at the half thanks to their defense, which forced 16 turnovers and had nine steals.
The Raiders were ahead by as many as eight points in the first two quarters.
The Warriors shook off their malaise ó they had sufferered an 81-41 loss to Lake Norman in the finals of the Iredell County Holiday Classic just four days earlier ó and outscored South 20-8 in the third quarter to pull ahead 47-38.
“We got careless,” Davis said. “We started throwing the ball all over the place.”
West Iredell upped its lead to 49-38 in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter before the Raiders started fighting back.
South was down 67-62 with 1:48 remaining when its defense ó which had not forced a steal in the period ó scored off back-to-back picks during a six-point swing, with John Davis’ strip and layup with 44 seconds left putting the Raiders up 68-67.
Keith Gray’s short jumper with 12 seconds left put West back up 69-68, but Morrison hit a pair of free throws to give South a 70-69 lead with 7.2 seconds left.
Gray was fouled just as he released his runner from 7 feet away. He missed the free throw, and South’s last shot at a win ended when Davis missed a halfcourt heave.
“We almost gave this one away … (but) we made the shots down the stretch when we needed to,” Warriors head coach Brian Cantrell said. “It was a hard-fought game, and those are a lot of fun.”
west iredell (71) ó Rucker 21, J. Gray 12, K. Gray 11, Stevenson 10, Follard 4, Alford 4, D. Gray 3, Smyre 3, Clyburn 2, Crosby 2, Scott.south rowan (70) ó Morrison 30, Grant 12, Davis 11, Shaver 10, Johnson 5, Walker 2, Corriher, Houston.
W. Iredell 13 14 20 24 ó 71
S. Rowan 16 14 8 32 ó 70