County high school rivalries the best

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 28, 2011

Roaming the county getting ready for tonight …
Is there anything better than a county basketball rivalry, especially in Rowan County?
It doesn’t matter about record or the teams. Gyms are packed and the play ferocious. Students come out in force, which doesn’t happen in Davidson or Iredell counties on a nightly basis.
You might even see Orange Man in the crowd.
Carson has one. The Orange Man came to a recent game and threw up a few shots from halfcourt during intermission. If he shows at West Rowan, he should be easy to spot among all the blue.
We’ll keep the Orange Man’s identity a secret for now. But Orange Man, we know who you are and we’ll be expecting you tonight at the Gurley Dome.
Carson and West Rowan have had some classic battles over the years. Tonight promises to be just one more night to remember.
And Howard Platt and WSTP 1490 AM will call the boys game. If its a county rivalry, you can bet our Hall of Famer’s golden voice will be there.
That is the marquee matchup in yet another night full of basketball doubleheaders. Salisbury welcomes West Davidson in 2A CCC action. North Rowan is at home against Albemarle, the two top athletic programs in the 1A YVC. East Rowan is at Statesville in the 3A NPC.

Sometimes I ask myself, “How does he do it? How does Mike Gurley always have his West Rowan Falcons in the thick of the North Piedmont Conference race regardless of personnel?”
Then, I have to remind myself this guy is only in his early 40s and he’s already won over 400 games.
Last year, he got all of his players late from a state title football season. Everyone thought there was no way a bunch of football players could win anything.
So what did Gurley’s team do? It won everything — the conference regular season, the conference tournament, the sectional tournament. … I thought it was his best coaching job ever.
Until now.
Oh yeah, you say, that 8-9 record is really outstanding. But the only record that counts is 6-1, his mark in the NPC.
Gurley has dealt with injuries to his best player — Keshun Sherrill. Even after football season ended with yet another state title, he had to wait on B.J. Sherrill (concussion) and Domonique Noble (knee). He has played skinny freshmen and burly sophomores. But after beating West Iredell in overtime Wednesday, West and it’s losing overall record has a chance to win another title.
First, it has to get past Carson (7-9, 4-3) tonight. If that happens, the Falcons will play host to first-place Statesville (12-3, 7-0) on Tuesday.
Carson and West have given us some of our best matchups ever. You can never count the Cougars out as long as they have that sweet stroke of Nick Houston on the floor.
It should be a packed house at West tonight. But when isn’t there a packed house for a Rowan County rivalry game?

North Rowan and Salisbury are already in first place and hope to stay there with wins tonight.
North ( 12-3, 8-0) has its own rivalry going with Albemarle and the two will have a monumental battle in Spencer. Last year, the Cavs won the regular season and the Bulldogs (8-2, 6-1) took the tournament.
Salisbury (11-4, 4-0) should stay in first at home against the Green Dragons (4-8, 0-3).

I was in the Central Davidson gym Wednesday, watching a Spartan girls team that has become the second best in the CCC.
Of course, the juggernaut is Salisbury and apparently, no one is going to beat them in this league. But it’s nice to see Central at 13-3. I was there a few years ago when Salisbury buried the Spartans 94-14.
And to this day, I maintain, Salisbury didn’t intentionally run it up.

Speaking of Central, when the Spartan boys come to Salisbury on Feb. 2, take a good look at Central coach Brian Hege. He reminds me of The Situation on Jersey Shore?

New faces have sprung up this season and two big men are shining bright: Salisbury’s 6-6 Jarrett Rivens and Carson’s 6-4 Rik Heggins.
Let’s see how Heggins does against the West Crazies tonight.

Carson’s girls are still a solid second in the NPC and have North Iredell coming to their place later in the season. The Cougars have already beaten West Rowan twice. How will they do in a hostile territory?
Stay tuned. You never know what’s going to happen in a county rivalry — except that you’re going to have a lot of fun.

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or