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Salisbury boys 73, North Rowan 50

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
Salisbury’s John Knox muscled in a third-quarter stickback, faked getting back on defense, swiped the inbounds pass and promptly scored again.
Knox’s four points in two seconds higlighted Salisbury’s easy 73-50 win against North Rowan on Monday and let everyone know the Hornets’ football studs have returned to the hardwood.
Knox, a key returner from a 28-2 team, had just two recuperative days between quarterbacking the football squad ó he broke the school’s 39-year-old record for total offense ó and directing the basketball team.
There was little rust evident. With six football players in prominent roles, the Hornets held North scoreless for nearly four minutes and took an 8-0 lead. Jahaan Hailey had 26 points in Salisbury’s loss at North. He led a balanced attack in the rematch with 17.”The guys who played in those first two games bonded together with the football players, and those guys came in ready to play,” Hailey said.
SHS coach Jason Causby had worried about meshing two groups quickly, but the Hornets looked solid.
“I never imagined we could make as seamless a transition as we did, but these are the same guys people said couldn’t win at Shelby in the football playoffs,” Causby said. “We should never underestimate this group.”
North (3-1) came in undefeated and excited but got an education in transition basketball. Guard Greg Sims had 16 points and postman Javon Hargrave produced 10 points and 10 boards, but the young Cavs were overwhelmed when Salisbury’s veterans started flying around and the crowd got into it.
“We ran into a buzz-saw,” North coach Kelly Everhart said. “They were much quicker than we were, and we didn’t rise to their pressure early in the game.”
The Cavs were in decent shape after a quarter, down 16-11, but the next one was disastrous. North shot 2-for-10 from the field in that period and turned it over seven times.
Football standouts Darien Rankin and Romar Morris teamed for a spectacular play with 4:12 left in the half that pushed Salisbury’s lead to 27-18 and energized the crowd. Rankin made a slick pass on a break to Morris, who hung in the air, double-clutched, drew a foul and made the bucket.That shot triggered a furious run, and the Hornets (1-2) rolled to a 40-23 halftime lead.
“We knew they were talented and knew it wouldn’t be like the game at North,” Everhart said. “They got it going, and then it was a snowball rolling downhill. We have to learn to play better when our backs are to the wall.”
The Hornets finished the third quarter with another 8-0 run on a driving layup by Tion McCain and a pair of 3-pointers by Hailey. That was the knockout punch.
“It was a tough transition because football and basketball shape are different things,” Knox said. “But we had the advantage of playing at home and with the crowd pumping us up. We emphasized the defense, and we were able to jump ahead.”
Causby liked the disruptive defense by his guards, liked Alex Weant’s three blocked shots, liked everything about Monday except the chronic shoulder injury Rankin aggravated when he banged into a wall making a save with just under five minutes left.
“Darien tweaked it some,” Causby said. “We’ve got to monitor it and make sure exactly what he can and can’t do.”
NORTH ROWAN (50) ó Sims 16, Hargrave 10, West 5, Starks 5, Ford 4, Chambers 4, Smyre 3, Givens 3, Bush, Witherspoon.
SALISBURY (73) ó Hailey 17, Rankin 11, Knox 9, Morris 9, Weant 8, Jones 5, Phillips 4, Nunn 4, McCain 3, Murphy 3, Petty, Wood, Wilkins.
N. Rowan 11 12 7 20 ó 50
Salisbury 16 24 20 13 ó 73

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