Prep Basketball: Northwest Cabarrus 74, South Rowan 53
By Mike London
KANNAPOLIS ó South Rowan’s boys scored 107 points on Monday but couldn’t manage even half that total in a dismal 74-53 NPC loss at Northwest Cabarrus on Wednesday.
It was a combination of Northwest turning the calendar back to three weeks ago when it ripped off nine consecutive wins and South turning in one of its worst outings of the season. Steven Johnson scored 20 points for South, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
“Senior Night enthusiasm was a big thing on the part of all the seniors and a lot of guys stepped up pretty big,” said Northwest senior Stephen Kiser, who was 6-for-6 from the floor on a flurry of 5-foot bank shots. “Once we started playing better defense in the second half, they just couldn’t handle our size. South can jump, but we were just too strong for them.”
It was a costly setback for South (13-11, 10-8), which slipped back into a tie for fourth place with a Mooresville squad the Raiders recently flattened by 28 points.
Third-place Northwest (17-6, 13-5) used its reach and size to beat South 80-66 before Christmas, and the Raiders haven’t grown any vertically since December. B.J. Grant and Reid Shaver can get up with 99.9 percent of the 6-foot-1 guys on the planet, but Northwest’s Ira Hines is 6-foot-6 and Gavin Billings, a muscular Elon-bound tight end, is roughly the size of a Wal-Mart. When Billings got the ball in the paint, Raiders scattered like bowling pins and he makes layups.
Hines looked like Gulliver reaching high above helpless Lilliputians.
South often makes up for height deficiencies by playing smart and tough, but its shooting was criminal ó 24 percent in the second half ó and coach John Davis said his team should have been arrested for its decision-making shortcomings.
“The first half we were going 75 miles an hour when it would’ve been a lot smarter to go 70 and get their safe,” he said. “Then in the second half it was like we tried to go 85 or 90 right into heavy traffic. We got pulled over, and they gave us a ticket.”
Northwest began the game playing man-to-man and it appeared South guard Hunter Morrison might get 50 assists.
Johnson had 11 first-quarter points, and when Dakota Walker stuck back an offensive rebound early in the second quarter, the Raiders led 23-12. The bad news is they were outscored 62-30 the rest of the way.
Northwest coach Daniel Jenkins made the key strategic move of the night when he got his guys out of man-to-man and into what appeared to be a matchup zone.
“I try not to be stubborn, and I could see we were going to have a hard time with Morrison,” Jenkins said.
Jeff Felton and Jordan Brand hit key 3s for Northwest as the Trojans cut South’s halftime edge to 30-27.
“At halftime, there weren’t any big words of wisdom,” Jenkins said. “I thought our intensity was maybe a 5 or 6 (out of 10) when we needed to get it up to 8 or 9. But mostly we just needed to make our layups. It seemed like the first half we were trying to get fouled so we could make three-point plays. The second half, we concentrated better on just making the layup.”
The zone caused South serious trouble. Morrison couldn’t penetrate and kick out and the Raiders made only four field goals in the third quarter.
Northwest owned the paint and scored at will. It shot 11-for-14 in the quarter and put up 27 points for a 54-46 lead.
It got uglier still for South in the final eight minutes. South shot 2-for-10, while the Trojans were 9-for-15.
“If it wasn’t for Johnson, we would not have had any shooting percentage at all,” Davis said with a grimace. “And our defense ó we looked like a sponge.”
Morrison, who is having one of the best seasons in South history, was held to 11 points, tying his season-low in NPC games. He has scored 482 points this season. Only three South players have enjoyed 500-point campaigns. Morrison’s 826 points rank third all-time at South, which has had only one 1,000-point scorer (Larry Lentz).
South enters the NPC tournament as the No. 5 seed and will play at Mooresville Monday. The Blue Devils are No. 4 because they split with Northwest.
south rowan (53) ó Johnson 20, Morrison 11, Shaver 7, Grant 7, Corriher 1, Davis 3, Houston 2, Walker 2, Dessasore, Honeycutt.
nw cabarrus (74) ó Brand 12, Kiser 12, Reid 11, West 10, Honeycutt 8, Hines 8, Billings 6, Felton 5, Wright 2, Seager.
S. Rowan 17 13 16 7 ó 53
NWC 12 15 27 20 ó 74
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