North Rowan 73, Salisbury 70, OT
By David Shaw
SPENCERó There’s nothing like taking a mid-term on the first day of class.
But that’s exactly what host North Rowan was handed in its season-opener Tuesday night when it rallied for a 73-70 overtime victory over short-handed Salisbury.
“We found out who really wants to play and who’s gonna freeze under pressure,” Cavs junior Javon Hargrave said after driving for three layups in OT. “It turned out everybody played good under pressure.”
Especially Hargrave. A 6-foot-3 forward in defensive tackle clothing, he scored a team-best 22 points after being held scoreless in the first half.
“During our pre-game I said ‘Let’s attack inside. Let’s pound the ball down inside,’ ” said winning coach Kelly Everhart. “We did not do a very good job of that early on. In the second half we made a point of getting the ball to Hargrave and he used his strength and size to help us.”
So did North teammate Sam Starks, who drilled a 3-pointer from the right corner that tied the score 59-59 as the fourth quarter expired. It nullified the 3-ball Salisbury’s Forest Wilkins drained that had put the Hornets up three with 10 seconds remaining in regulation.
“We had more than a chance to win,” said Salisbury coach Jason Causby. “But the way that gym was shaking after those two shots, that’s why high school basketball is the greatest sport in America.”
It all came on the heels of another unbelievable shot ó Jahaan Hailey’s 40-footer at the halftime buzzer that gave Salisbury a 25-23 lead.
“I was just trying to beat the clock,” he said after netting a game-best 26 points. “Luckily it went right in.”
North mounted 8-point leads on two occasions in the third quarter, and still led 52-47 after Hargrave scored on a no-look reverse layup off an inbounds pass with 4:12 to go in the fourth.
“I make that shot all the time in practice,” he said with a smile.
Salisbury regained the lead 56-54 on Cory Murphy’s home-run ball with 1:44 to play, then went up 59-56 when Wilkins found an opening on the right side and nailed his shot in the closing seconds.
“We were still up by three with 3.3 seconds left, but they found a way to tie it,” Causby said. “I don’t know how you coach that.”
You don’t. Starks forced overtime when he frantically grabbed a rebound, backtracked beyond the 3-point line and connected from deep in the right corner.
“There was no set call anymore,” he said. “I just picked it up, focused in and shot it. I was tripping into the bleachers as I let it go. After that all I could do was run down to the other end of the court.”
“From the time he let it go,” Everhart added, “everyone on the bench was yelling, ‘It’s in. It’s in.’ I think we were all praying at that moment.”
In overtime Hargrave played like a UPS truck in sneakers, penetrating for a pair of game-tying layups. His final basket gave North a 69-66 lead with a minute remaining.
“At first we were playing a little one-on-one with them,” said Starks. “But when it counted most, we put the ball in the post, where our strength is, and let him go. He produced. We all produced.”
And earned a passing grade.
salisbury (70) ó Hailey 26, Woods 16, Murphy 12, Petty 8, Wilkins 6, McCain 2, Tracey, Wood, Nunn.
north rowan (73) ó Hargrave 22, Starks 12, West 12, Sims 6, Chambers 6, Givens 6, Ford 4, Bush 2, Witherspoon 2, Smyre 1.
Salisbury 7 18 14 20 11 ó 70
N. Rowan 12 11 20 16 14 ó 73