Prep Basketball: West Rowan boys stay fresh in win
By David Shaw
MOUNT ULLA ó If there were any questions about K.J. Sherrill’s dominance, there shouldn’t be now.
West Rowan’s senior postmaster remains the Fresh Prince of Rowan County after lifting the Falcons to a 59-50 victory over visiting Mooresville on Tuesday night.
“Sometimes I’ve got to carry the team and be a leader,” Sherrill said. “Tonight was one of those times.”
Sherrill played like a man possessed for West (15-2, 11-1 NPC). He tossed in a season-high 29 points, yanked down 20 rebounds and blocked three shots as the Falcons gained their sixth straight win.
“When you get to this point of the season, you’ve got to be ready every night,” West coach Mike Gurley said. “Especially when you’re the hunted, people are gonna give you their best shot. We’ve got to expect that.”
West got a hard shot from Mooresville (5-7, 5-9) and calmly deflected it to the side. A pivotal moment came late in the third quarter after the Blue Devils had scored nine unanswered points to draw within 43-40.
“They were really turning the screws on us at that point,” Gurley said. “They had that 9-0 run with a dunk or two in there. We were back on our heels.”
But instead of folding under pressure, West got a spark from an unlikely source when junior Jon Crucitti took a doorstep pass from Keshun Sherrill, hit a layup, got fouled and completed a three-point play with 5.3 seconds remaining in the quarter.
“That may have been the biggest play of the game,” Mooresville coach Mike Micklow said. “Right before then we had a couple of possessions with good looks, but the ball just rimmed out. We had lots of opportunities, but we let them go. You can’t do that against West Rowan.”
West senior Kaleb Kimber, who netted 11 points, was also impressed.
“That gave us back the momentum,” he said. “It was time to get serious, and we did.”
Even K.J. Sherrill, the serious one in the group, threw a verbal bouquet at Crucitti.
“He’s undersized, but he plays big,” Sherrill said. “He plays strong. And he never, ever wants to lose.”
Sherrill made sure of that. He scored 11 points in the third period and eight in the fourth ó including a jackhammer jam over Mooresville center Audarius Blackwell with less than a minute remaining. More important was a bank shot from inside the lane that made it 48-42 with 6:52 to play and an offensive rebound/putback combo that produced an eight-point lead with 6:01 showing on the clock.
“Our big guys did a pretty good job against him,” Micklow said. “But you know, you’ve got stallions, you’ve got horses and you’ve got donkeys. They rode their stallion all the way home. He was the difference in the game.”
The victory kept West within a half-game of league-leading Lake Norman. The Falcons will play host to East Rowan on Friday and travel to Mooresville next Tuesday.
“It’s crunch time now,” Kimber said. “We need to get focused and stay focused. In a little while there may not be another game.”
No one knows that better than Gurley, who lauded Sherrill for his ability to take over.
“Mooresville’s very athletic. They did a good job,” he said. “And we needed all the energy we got from B.J. Sherrill, and Kaleb made some nice plays down the stretch. But it was the big fella tonight. He put us on his shoulders and did what he had to do to make sure we won that basketball game.”
mooresville (50) ó Lester 17, Sutton 13, Wilson 8, Caldwell 4, Blackwell 4, I.Johnson 4.
west rowan (59) ó K.J.Sherrill 29, K.Kimber 11, Ke.Sherrill 7, Smith 4, Crucitti 3. Grant 2, Moore 2, B.Sherrill 1, J.Kimber, Noble, Huffman, Gore.
Mooresville 9 12 19 10 ó 50
W. Rowan 13 17 16 13 ó 59