Prep Basketball: West Iredell boys 51, East Rowan 42
By David Shaw
GRANITE QUARRY ó Anyone waiting for a letdown from East Rowanís boys basketball team didnít have to wait very long.
Two days after gaining their first victory of the season, the Mustangs were lassoed by visiting West Iredell, 51-42, on Friday.
ěI was hoping everything would carry over,î East coach Trey Ledbetter said. ěWe know what winning feels like now, so weíre pretty dejected about this. There are no more moral victories when you lose anymore.î
East (1-13, 1-5 NPC) found a way to minimize the damage of 6-foot-4 senior Zach Follrod, limiting WIís do-it-all forward to 13 points. But it had no answer for junior guard Jalen Gray, a muscular sniper who proved dangerous from anywhere on the floor.
ěWhen he turns and shoots with just seconds to go, thatís routine for him,î said winning coach B.J. Johnson.
Gray tallied a game-high 22 points, including three on a 55-foot Hail Mary as the first quarter expired. It helped wipe out an early 7-0 East lead and tied the score 11-11.
ěThat was actually our fault,î said Eastís Jordan Shepherd. ěWe had just scored (to go up 11-8) with like a second left and were walking back on defense. We werenít aware of the time or where the ball was.î
Gray took an inbounds pass and immediately launched his 3-ball, rustling the crowd and wiping the smile off East Rowanís face.
ěHeís got a knack for hitting those kind of shots,î Johnson said. ěThat one changed the game. Instead of them going to their bench with a three-point lead, it was all even. A shot like that will take the wind out of anybody.î
East fell behind 22-16 midway through the second quarter before consecutive 3-pointers by Avery Rogers and Hakeem Gittens tied the score for the last time.
ěI thought we played pretty well in the first half,î said East forward Josh Gobble. ěEspecially against their big guy (Follrod). Heís their leader. If he catches fire, he doesnít stop.î
Follrod was quietly assertive in the second half, when he netted nine points and adjusted his game to suit the Warriors.
ěEarly in the game, we didnít panic,î said Johnson. ěI had two starters sitting down for various reasons, so everyoneís rhythm was kind of thrown off. Zach had a rough night. Things didnít go his way. But he accepted that he was going to be a distributor tonight instead of a scorer and didnít force anything.î
It was Follrodís layup off a scramble that gave West a 36-31 lead after three periods. Later, a 7-0 run put the guests up 43-33 with four minutes to play. Forced to launch 3-balls on offense and foul quickly on defense, the Mustangs never drew closer than nine points.
ěYou know, we came out ready to go,î said Shepherd, who stuck three 3-pointers and showed signs of emerging as a No. 3 scorer for East. ěWe had that momentum. Right away we were making shots, running plays and playing together.î
The Mustangs were paced by Gittens, who scored 11 points and reached double figures for the fourth straight game. But Rogers was limited to seven points ó all in the first half.
ěWe showed all that intensity at the start, but we fell flat in the second quarter,î Ledbetter said afterward. ěWe got some shots early and good penetration, but then they stopped falling. And that Gray kid, he can flat-out play. Heís a slasher who moves fast. Weíre a young team thatís still trying to figure out the varsity pace.î
NOTES: West Iredell (8-7) squared its conference record at 3-3. … East is idle until Wednesday when it plays at Carson.
WEST IREDELL (51) ó J.Gray 22, Follrod 13, Harris 4, Blohm 4, Gibbs 4, Stevenson 2, Daniels 2.
EAST ROWAN (42) ó Gittens 11, Shepherd 9, Gobble 8, A.Rogers 7, Hough 7, W.Rogers, Driver.
W. Iredell 11 17 8 15 ó 51
E. Rowan 11 13 7 11 ó 42