Prep Basketball: West Rowan boys 63, South Rowan 46
By Mike London
LANDIS ó West Rowan’s boys threw up barrels of bricks, but they also threw serious defense at South Rowan.
Key Falcons ó Kaleb Kimber, Keshun Sherrill and Jason Grant ó combined for 1-for-16 field-goal shooting, but West still managed a grinding 63-46 NPC victory.
Charlotte-bound senior K.J. Sherrill, who had 26 points and 17 rebounds, supplied the offense and got assistance from freshman Jordan Kimber’s 16 smooth points. Chris Smith snatched 10 rebounds. Myles Moore hit two 3-pointers.
“It was a game for the young and the old,” said West’s Mike Gurley, who is 24-5 coaching against South and notched his 264th victory since coming to Mount Ulla. “Our young guy (Jordan Kimber) had energy, desire and focus from the first second and he got us started by making a lot of smart basketball plays. Then he passed the torch and the old guy (K.J. Sherrill) picked it up.”
Guard Hunter Morrison, South’s No. 10 all-time scorer with 713 points and the county’s leading scorer all season, was limited to 11 points. He was 3-for-15 from the floor and 5-for-10 at the foul line. West didn’t do anything fancy, but its guards kept Morrison in front of them and challenged every jumper.
Defense has been the focus for the Falcons (14-2, 10-1) of late. Since a 71-68 setback at Lake Norman, they’ve stopped gambling and started bending their knees and getting after it. In the last five outings ó all victories ó they’ve allowed an average of 42.2 points, and no one’s scored more than 47.
Still, South (9-9, 6-6) has a reputation for intensity and made things interesting. It was a 10-point game with two minutes left.
“The final score’s not indicative of the kind of game it was,” South coach John Davis said. “Our guys fought like devils inside against K.J, but we just wore out at the end.”
South struggled to deal with West’s size advantage in the first half, but momentum shifted when John Davis ended the half with a drive for two of his team-high 12 points and cut West’s lead to 30-19.
“Little John and B.J. Grant were tough tonight,” Gurley said. “B.J. was hard to box out, and Davis put a strain on our defense by driving the basketball.”
Davis’ late layup carried over. South opened the second half with an 8-0 run that included 3s by Blake Houston and Grant and two free throws by Morrison after Gurley was tagged with his first technical in five years. With South down 30-27, Houston missed a 3-pointer for a tie.
Jordan Kimber then scored on a slick drive for West for a five-point lead.
A few seconds later, K.J. Sherrill made a move and collided with Reid Shaver. Shaver tried to draw his fourth charge, but the whistle went West’s way, and Sherrill owned a pivotal three-point play. It was downhill for the Raiders from there.
“The first half we were our own worst enemies, not making free throws and not rebounding,” Coach Davis said. “But we talked about putting ourselves within striking distance, and we did that.”
Sherrill was sensational in the second half with 15 points, a lot of them on sweet, turnaround bankers from mid-range.
“South was ready to play, and we knew we couldn’t back down from it,” said K.J. Sherrill, who bumped his career scoring total to 1,335 points. “They came to guard me, but instead of looking like I was fighting for position on the block and maybe getting in foul trouble, I moved outside.”
When Sherrill didn’t score, Jordan Kimber did. It was the “old” and the young working in perfect harmony.
“We knew this wouldn’t be a rollover game, but K.J. was just wonderful,” Jordan Kimber said. “We were sluggish the first half , but the second half they couldn’t stop him, and we kept feeding him.”
west rowan (63) ó K.J. Sherrill 26, J. Kimber 16, Moore 8, K. Sherrill 7, Smith 4, B.J. Sherrill 2, J. Grant, Huffman, Crucitti, K. Kimber, Noble, Gore. south rowan (46) ó Davis 12, Morrison 11, B.J. Grant 6, Houston 5, Shaver 5, Walker 4, Johnson 3, Corriher.
W. Rowan 18 12 14 19 ó 63
S. Rowan 8 11 15 12 ó 46