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Prep Basketball: North Iredell boys 61, East Rowan 58

By Bill Kiser
sports@salisburypost.com
GRANITE QUARRY ó East Rowan wasn’t counting on having its season end Friday night in its home gym.
North Iredell, however, had other plans, overcoming a double-digit deficit to take the lead in the final minute and pull out a 61-58 upset win over the Mustangs.
Clint Smith nailed five 3-pointers to score 15 points, Ryan Sharpe added 14 points ó including the game-winning basket with 42 seconds left ó and JV callup Michael McNeely 11 for the 10th-place Raiders (4-18), who snapped a three-game losing streak and kept their season going for at least one more game.
That will be against Lake Norman ó which tied with West Rowan atop the NPC standings, and drew the No. 2 seed ó in the opening round of the conference tournament on Monday night.
“Our guys came out and fought hard,” North head coach Tony Davenport said. “They weren’t ready for the season to be over.”
Caleb Allen scored 11 points off the bench for East Rowan (7-16), which overcame a slow start to lead by as many as 11 points in the second quarter.
However, Daniel Plummer ó the Mustangs’ leading scorer at 14 points per game, who put up a career-high 31 in East’s last win over North ó was held to just six points on 1-of-17 shooting and 4 of 6 from the line. He also had nine rebounds.
“We didn’t play bad; they just played really good, especially in the second half,” East Rowan head coach Greg McKenzie said. “We had a chance. It came down to the last couple minutes. It obviously could have gone our way, but it didn’t.”
Things were going all the Mustangs’ way early, as they overcame a five-point deficit to lead 23-14 at the end of the first quarter, and pull ahead by 11 four times in the second quarter, the last at 33-22 on Jesse Slater’s short jumper with 2:05 left.
But North Iredell ó which had lost twice to East during the regular season, the last time by a 94-54 margin three weeks ago ó kept coming back.
The Raiders pulled within 35-30 at the half, cut the Mustangs’ lead to one point three times in the second half, and even tied the score at 46-46 on Luke Sloan’s free throw with 6:25 left in the fourth quarter.
East time, East found a way to pull back ahead ó the Mustangs led 44-40 at the start of the fourth quarter, used a five-point run to lead 51-46 with 4:09 left, and were ahead 58-54 with 1:53 remaining on Plummer’s lone field goal.
The last minute would be East’s undoing.
Sharpe hit a free throw with 1:40 left to pull North within 58-55, hit two more free throws 29 seconds later to cut the Mustangs’ lead to one point, then put the Raiders ahead for good with a layup.
Brandon Ward added a pair of free throw with 19 seconds left.
North Iredell (61) ó Smith 15, R. Sharpe 14, McNeely 11, Ward 5, Pierce 4, Sloan 4, Pharr 3, K. Sharpe 3, Stuckey 2, Haynes.
east rowan (58) ó Allen 11, Slater 9, Ajayi 8, Grohman 8, Moore 6, Plummer 6, McKenzie 6, Honeycutt 2, Mancil 2, Weber, Torrence.
N. Iredell 14 16 10 21 ó 61
E. Rowan 23 12 9 14 ó 00

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