Prep Basketball: Ledford boys 54, North Rowan 49
By Steve Huffman
SPENCER ó North Rowan lost a heartbreaker Friday night, battling back from an eight-point deficit to take a lead against Ledford only to lose in the closing seconds.
The Cavaliers fell 54-49.
“This is one of those games that could be critical late in the season when we’re looking at playoff spots,” said North coach Kelly Everhart. “It’s one where we felt we should have come out on top.”
Ledford controlled the game early on, sporting an 18-10 advantage after the first quarter.
But North (5-12, 2-6 CCC) hung tough, battling back to take a 36-31 lead in the closing minutes of the third quarter when D.J. Hipps drained a 3-pointer.
From that point, it was neck and neck.
With less than a minute to play and the score knotted at 49, North controlled the ball and appeared intent to wait for a final shot. But Ledford’s Jonathon Reid stole a Cavalier pass, raced the length of the court, scored and was fouled. His free throw put the Panthers (4-12, 3-5) on top 52-49.
Only 21 seconds remained, and North sputtered from there. The Cavaliers didn’t seem in any hurry to get off a shot, with Hipps finally launching a 3-pointer.
It missed, and Ledford’s Dylan Smith rebounded. He was fouled and his free throws sealed the affair.
“Even with 21 seconds I still wanted us to attack,” Everhart said. “We acted like we wanted to wait for the last shot, and that wasn’t what we wanted at all.”
The ending put a damper on what had been a fine effort by the Cavaliers in the third and fourth quarters.
North was especially tough on defense, and relied on Hipps, Lamonte Bell and Andre Blakeney for some key field goals.
“We were concerned about their dribble-drive there at the end,” said Ledford coach Scott Dalton. “We didn’t want to let them hold the ball until the last shot.”
So he kept his Panthers in a zone, but pulled them out from the basket and told them to be on the lookout for a steal. That’s when Reid made his move.
“It wasn’t a whole lot of coaching, but a lot of execution,” Dalton said.
Bell led the Cavaliers with 14 points and Hipps had 10. Blakeney scored eight.
Smith led Ledford with 14.
ledford (54) ó Smith 14, Sparrow 9, Essick 8, Fuquay 7, Davis 7, Reid 6, Ray 3, Park. north rowan (49) ó Bell 14, Hipps 10, Blakeney 8, Sims 7, Hicks 6, Hargrave 4, Freezor, Jackson, Rhames.
Ledford 18 9 11 16 ó 54
N. Rowan 10 11 17 11 ó 49