Prep Basketball: North Rowan 52, Gray Stone 20
By David Shaw
SPENCER — North Rowan’s boys basketball team is still walking in a winter wonderland — even if it is navigating on tired legs.
The Cavaliers maintained their hold on first place in the YVC and set a school record for fewest points allowed Saturday when they routed visiting Gray Stone 52-20.
“That’s pretty good considering this is our fourth straight night of playing,” coach Andrew Mitchell said. “Any time you can go 4-0 in a week is great, but it was tough on the players. They’re walking stiff-legged tonight.”
It was probably toughest on seniors Javon Hargrave and Sam Starks. Both worked out for college recruiters earlier in the day — Hargrave for South Carolina State’s football staff and Starks with Virginia Tech’s indoor track coaches.
“We’re tired, man,” Hargrave said after scoring a game-high 14 points for the Cavs (15-3, 11-0). “After everything that’s happened, we wanted to get off to a good start.”
Hargrave made sure of that. One night after being held scoreless by Albemarle, he scored North’s first eight points as the hosts raced to a 14-2 lead.
“(Friday) night they were just beating him, holding him and pulling his jersey,” Mitchell reported. “They had the zone packed back in and we couldn’t get him the ball. Tonight he came in ready to play.”
Hargrave played with leading-man charisma, but was backed by a worthy supporting cast. Teammate Michael Bowman — a defensive stalwart who can play any position — had 10 points and eight rebounds. And Malik Ford, also held scoreless by Albemarle, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots.
“The key was keeping it altogether,” said Ford. “Everybody knew their legs were hurting. We just had to play through it.”
North led 22-6 after one quarter and by 19 after Starks drove the left baseline for a layup late in the first half. But it took a 13-0 run to open the third period for the Cavs to salt this one away.
“They were just too physical, too athletic for us,” Gray Stone coach Myron Harrington said after the Knights (3-15, 2-9) made only six field goals. “We put forth a good effort, but we couldn’t match up.”
Bowman, a 6-foot-1 freshman, presented the most-pressing problem. He scored nine points in the third quarter — two following a steal at midcourt that he turned into a runaway layup and three on a bomb from the left side that gave North a 39-13 lead.
“Mike’s a killer,” Ford said with a smile. “He kills everybody.”
Mitchell was obviously impressed. “He’s long and rangy and goes and gets rebounds,” the rookie coach fawned. “I didn’t know anything about him when I took this job. And when I saw him the first day of workouts I knew we had a jewel. Every game, he comes out and does what we need him to do.”
Bowman was a big part of it last night. “Classification doesn’t really mean a thing,” he said. “If you can play, you can play. Tonight I came out ready to shoot, ready to play basketball.”
NOTES: North allowed 22 points against South Stanly earlier this season and also against Monroe in the 1961-62 season. … The play of the game was an second-quarter alley-oop pass from Timothy Bates that Starks flushed through the rim. … North visits West Montgomery on Tuesday.
GRAY STONE (20)— Sellers 6, Neal 5, Wagner 3, E.Mauldin 2, Barnett 2, D.Mauldin 2.
NORTH ROWAN (52) — Hargrave 14, Bowman 10, Connor 9, Chambers 6, Givens 4, Starks 4, T.Bates 3, Ford 2, A.Bates, Kimber, Barber.
Gray Stone 6 7 5 2 — 20
N. Rowan 22 6 15 9 — 52