East Rowan boys 72, Jay M. Robinson 60

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 10, 2009

By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY ó With 36 seconds left in Wednesday’s 72-60 win against Jay M. Robinson, East Rowan guard Phillip Ajayi spotted Brian Grohman two steps ahead of the pack and whipped the ball to him.
Grohman provided the finish East fans desperately wanted. He dunked.
Slams by 6-foot-4 guys aren’t rare, but slams by seniors whose junior seasons were ended by knee surgery are meaningful.
“This was the first time dunking in a game since I got hurt,” Grohman said. “I feel like I really am 100 percent now and I feel like 100 pounds just came off my shoulders.”
East seniors Grohman, Ajayi and Riley Weber took over in the fourth quarter, Cole Honeycutt and Omar Gittens were solid throughout, and the Mustangs (2-3) picked up their second straight win.
Grohman (17), Gittens (15), Ajayi (14) and Honeycutt (11) scored in double digits. Gittens also had 11 boards
Jacob Allen, a 6-foot-6 post man, led the Bulldogs (3-3) with 17 points. Robinson played without high-scoriing Elijah Hampton.
“You’ve got to give East a lot of credit for shooting very well and playing well,” Robinson coach Joe Pike said. “Our intensity was there, we got great defense from (Antonio) Francis, and we made some runs, but East kept their heads.”
Robinson had an awful start, shooting 3-for-13 in the first quarter. That allowed East to build a lead. When Gittens stuck in a rebound to end the half, the Mustangs (2-3) led 32-21.
East got scoring from seven different players in the second quarter and shot 56 percent in the first half.
The Mustangs kept it going in the third quarter, led by as many as 17 and was still ahead 48-36 going to the final eight minutes.
“I don’t think we played smart at all times, but we did play aggressive,” East coach Jim Lankford said. “This was a very physical game, and that’s something we’re getting better at. We were balanced, and our reserves really helped us. We’re developing a bench.”
The Bulldogs stayed within striking distance in the third quarter because Allen kept them there.
“He had some footwork issues a couple of times, but that’s a very good post man,” Lankford said. “They made a good adjustment after halftime, and he started to bring it.”
Robinson’s Antonio Francis and Keo Smotherson hit back-to-back 3s to chop East’s lead to 48-42.
“It was like we hit a roadblock there, but we didn’t panic and got past it,” Grohman said.
East got past it when Ajayi hit two technical free throws to interrupt Robinson’s surge. After that, Weber made a good boxout, drew a foul and hit a free throw to make it 51-42 with 6:42 remaining. Weber then picked up a deflected pass and scored. Then Weber made a steal that led to a bucket by Gittens.
After Ajayi scored and followed with a pass to Grohman for a layup, East had a 12-0 run, a 60-42 lead and the ballgame.
“My goal for the second half was to limit my turnovers,” Ajayi said. “I apologized to the team and told them I would do a better job as a leader in the second half, and I tried to do that.”
He had a great fourth quarter ó nine points and three assists.
Ajayi’s final assist of the night found his buddy, Grohman, and Grohman went high and threw it down.
“That was great to see,” Ajayi said. “It felt really good to be able to give Brian that assist.”
robinson (60) ó Allen 17, Fandl 11, Gadd 8, Koerner 7, Potts 5, Smithson 5, Bostick 3, Francis 3, Azenberger 1, Smotherson. east rowan (72) ó Grohman 17, O. Gittens 15, Ajayi 14, Honeycutt 11, Weber 7, H. Gittens 4, Watkins 2, Joshua 2, Troutman, Rogers.
Robinson 7 14 15 24 ó 60
E. Rowan 19 13 16 24 ó 72