Prep Basketball: North Rowan boys 64, South Davidson 61
By Ryan Bisesi
SPENCER — Now that’s how you come back.
After allowing a 36-21 halftime lead to slip away, North Rowan staged a rally of its own in the final three minutes, capped by Sam Starks’ layup that drew a foul with 10.5 seconds left in a 64-61 thriller against South Davidson Saturday night.
The Cavaliers had to complete a resurgence after a third quarter in which they went failed to make a field goal. A raucous Saturday night atmosphere in Spencer ended with North staying perfect in the 1A Yadkin Valley Conference with its fifth straight win.
“It’s just a hell of a win against a really good team,” North coach Andrew Mitchell said. “I liked the guts that the guys showed.”
After South went ahead with 15 seconds left on Austin Hatfield’s runner in the lane, Starks took the inbounds pass and traveled the length of the floor to sink a layup and barrell over Taylor Hatfield, deemed out of position by the referee, and called for a blocking foul.
“I saw an opening because they were turned around,” Starks said. “By the time they turned around it was too late to set a charge.”
South coach Eric Alspaugh disagreed with the momentus call that would have given the Wildcats the ball with the lead intact.
“They’re a great team with a great coach and great fans, but that charge foul’s got to be called and I’m very disappointed it wasn’t,” Alspaugh said.
Starks’ 14 points led North (11-3, 7-0 YVC) while the freshman twin duo of Austin Hatfield (21 points) and Taylor Hatfield (18) boosted South (7-7, 4-5 YVC), who only played six players.
After Starks’ heroics, Austin Hatfield found space in the paint and put up a one-handed shot that Malik Ford partially blocked. Starks was there again to snag the loose ball and draw a foul with 1.9 seconds left. Starks converted the first free throw and missed the second, allowing the Wildcats to grab the miss and call timeout with 1.5 seconds left. A halfcourt heave at the buzzer was well off the mark as North breathed a sigh of relief.
“(South’s) a good shooting team and they were hot tonight,” Starks said. “It doesn’t matter sometimes. If they’re shooting and they’re making it, you can’t really stop them.”
North trailed 56-49 with 3:06 left before Michael Connor finished a 7-0 spurt with a fast- break layup to tie it with 1:31 left. After a Will Collins free throw briefly gave South back the lead, Pierre Givens hit a runner for a 58-57 lead. South gained it back on a corresponding jumper from Dane Hill with just under a minute left. Givens was fouled on the next possession and converted both freebies on a 1-and-1 situation.
Givens and Michael Connor each had 11 points for North, while Javon Hargrave scored 13.
The Cavs went 9:23 into the second half before hitting a shot from the field on the first basket of the fourth quarter, a Givens layup.
“When he put his hands on the ball, we knew that he was going to go the length of the court,” Mitchell said. “When (Starks) has the ball in his hands, he can get to the hole on anybody.”
After leading 18-15 after one quarter, North plowed forward in the second, outscoring South 18-6. South’s cold second quarter was matched by North’s struggles in the third, when it was outscored 20-3 and the Wildcats led 41-39 with eight minutes left. An 11 for 22 night from the charity stripe also did South no favors.
“We can’t come out that flat against a team that’s that talented,” Alspaugh said. “It’s a lesson for our kids to take home with them. They’ve got to come out ready to play.”
“We’re growing up a little bit,” Mitchell said. “That’s something positive going into the second half of the season.”
NORTH ROWAN (64)— Starks 14, Hargrave 13, Connor 11, Givens 11, Bowman 8, Ford 5, Chambers 2, A. Bates, T. Bates
SOUTH DAVIDSON (61) — A. Hatfield 21, T. Hatfield 18, Hill 10, Collins 7,Haneline 5, Whitaker.
S. Dav. 15 6 20 20 — 61
N Rowan 18 18 3 25 — 64