Concord boys 88, East Rowan 51
By Bret Strelow
CONCORD ó Jim Lankford’s debut as East Rowan’s boys basketball coach was a discovery period ó four of them, actually.
Phillip Ajayi and Brian Grohman had 10 points apiece to lead East in an 88-51 loss at Concord on Tuesday night. The Spiders trailed after one quarter and took control midway through the second.
“We talked about the positive takeaways we’re going to build on,” Lankford said. “There were a lot of mistakes and a lot to work on, and we’re going to move forward.
“We needed to see where we are, and we saw a lot of things about where we are. A lot of things we have to work on, we needed to know that. We didn’t need to know it quite so clearly or so loudly.”
Lankford chuckled at the end of that statement.
A short jumper by Ajayi, who participated in a playoff football game Friday along with teammate Riley Weber, pulled East even with Concord two minutes into the second quarter.
The Spiders responded with a 10-0 run that ended with two 3-pointers from Griffin Templeton and one from Will Vanderburg. Concord’s fullcourt pressure forced turnover after turnover late in the half, and East trailed 46-32 at the break.
A field goal from Cole Honeycutt pulled the Mustangs within 51-42 with five minutes remaining in the third quarter, and the Spiders scored 37 of the next 42 points.
“When one team gets momentum, it can be a switch,” Ajayi said. “You can jump on it real quick or let it get out of hand. We just let it get out of hand.
“As we start to practice more, we’ll start to understand the game more.”
The game turned into a blowout because of a 21-0 run that covered almost the entire fourth quarter. Grohman hit two free throws early in the quarter, and East finally scratched again on a basket by Hakeem Gittens with 56 seconds left.
Concord’s Jacquise Moore opened the quarter with a one-handed follow slam, and the Spiders scored the first 13 points of their big run in a span of 58 seconds.
“I thought we played pretty well coming out of the locker room the first three minutes of the third quarter,” Lankford said. “Late in the second quarter, and from three minutes into the third quarter on, their size, their strength, their skill, their athleticism ó that’s a very, very good team and a very skilled team.
“We’ve got some tools to work with, and we saw that in how we played. We’re playing catch-up as far as these kids have been with me a very short time and I’ve been with them a very short time, but we’ve got some good pieces to work with.”
EAST ROWAN (51) ó Ajayi 10, Grohman 10, Joshua 8, Honeycutt 7, O.Gittens 6, Weber 4, H.Gittens 2, Driver 2, Sells 2, Rogers, Wilson, Curlee, Watkins.
CONCORD (88) ó Templeton 14, Cannady 14, Moore 12, Vanderburg 9, Stywall 9, Black 8, Jenkins 8, Gridine 8, Beasley 6, Davis.
East Rowan 21 11 13 6 ó 51
Concord 20 26 19 23 ó 88