Prep Basketball: South Rowan boys 65, West Iredell 52
By Mike London
email@example.comSTATESVILLE ó South Rowan guard Hunter Morrison’s floating 3-pointer settled gently in the net, and he gave bewildered West Iredell defender Keith Gray a friendly tap on the rump as they headed to the other end of the floor.
Morrison’s lone 3-pointer came during an ungodly burst in the fourth quarter. He had 14 of his 26 points in the final eight minutes as South pulled away from the Warriors for a 65-52 NPC victory.
Morrison and Gray kept a spirited, civil conversation going most of the night. Morrison got in the last words.
“On the 3, he told me there’s no way that’s going in,” Morrison said. “When I made it, I just told him, ‘Yeah, I think it is.’ Most of the things we said to each other you probably can’t print, but we were both just having fun out there and we were fine after the game.”
Morrison has scored 784 career points ó basically in two seasons. He passed South coach John Davis for fifth place on the school’s all-time scoring list Friday, and he owes part of his success to West Iredell.
Morrison’s had three great games against the Warriors, who have a well-earned reputation as a hard-nosed, defensive-minded program. He had 34 points against the Warriors as a junior and 30 in the meeting at South earlier this season that WI won 71-70.
“They’re good defensively, but they play me straight up, with nothing crazy,” Morrison said. “And I’ve been lucky to have my shots fall when we play them.”
Sign up West Iredell coach Brian Cantrell as a member of Morrison’s fan club.
“Yeah, he’s had had a lot of great games against us, but I’ve seen him have great ones against other teams too,” Cantrell said. “Morrison is a whole lot of fun to watch if you’re not coaching against him. He knows when to go and he knows when to shoot and when to pass. Those kids don’t come along all that often.”Dakota Walker was the muscular finisher on several sweet dishes from Morrison and delivered eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter.
“Dakota’s very strong, he has great hands, and it’s rare for him to miss any layups,” Morrison said.
Blake Houston added nine dazzling points off the bench for South, and John Davis had seven rebounds before fouling out.
It was a rugged, slow-paced game for three quarters, and Cantrell was delighted to be tied 36-36.
“For three quarters, it was our style of game,” he said.
South had trouble keeping WI (8-13, 4-12) off the glass and also got distracted by a few unfavorable whistles.
“The key word for us was composure,” South coach John Davis said. “Guys were coming over to the bench at the end of the third quarter holding their hands up and shaking their heads. I told them, ‘OK, OK, just play.’ And that’s what they did. This is a smart group.”
South finally solved West Iredell’s defensive puzzle in the final quarter when it put up 28 points.
“They really are good at man-to-man defense, especially with their helpside,” Davis said. “You beat one guy, and there’s always another one standing there.”
Fourth-place South (12-10, 9-7) broke it open when Morrison scored six quick points to open the fourth quarter. On the other end, Reid Shaver contained powerful Quan Rucker, a Wake Forest football signee who scored 17 spinning, whirling points.
Morrison’s 3-pointer over the long-armed Gray with 4:18 remaining pushed the lead to nine, and South nailed free throws to wrap it up.
south ROWAN (65) ó Morrison 26, Walker 10, Houston 9, Shaver 7, Grant 7, S. Johnson 5, Davis 1, Corriher, Dessasore, Honeycutt, D. Johnson.
west iredell (52) ó Q. Rucker 17, Follrod 9, J. Gray 8, K. Gray 7, Harris 5, Alford 4, Crosby 2, J. Rucker, Scott.S. Rowan 13 11 13 28 ó 65
W. Iredell 13 13 11 15 ó 52