All-County Basketball: The boys team
By Mike London
Obviously, it was a great year in the county for boys basketball, with North winning the 1A state championship and Salisbury and West making the regionals. The annual list of a dozen individual all-county honorees could have been stretched to 18.
Salisbury seniors Alex Weant and Corey Murphy, North’s regional MVP T.J. Bates, South All-NPC picks Mark McDaniel and Josh Medlin and West defensive stopper Domonique Noble (West was 13-2 with him in the lineup) aren’t here. You could make a good case for all of them, and you could take those six and win a lot of games.
Four Cavaliers are on the team, with Salisbury and West getting three each. South and Carson contributed one no-brainer apiece to the squad.
The coaches had a lot of input, but deciding the last few spots still took some debate.
Keshun Sherrill, West, Jr.
There can’t be a better 5-foot-9 player in the state.
Sherrill missed two games with a hip injury and still poured in 569 points — the seventh-highest scoring season in West history.
He led the county in scoring with 21.1 points a game, with a low of 14 points — no kidding, a low of 14 — and that was with every opponent focusing on him.
Sherrill had games of 37 and 36 points — two of the top 10 individual scoring games in West history — against quality opponents.
In a Western Regional semifinal against 3A champ Hunter Huss, the most talented team West faced, he had 28 points (10-for-18 shooting) against a 6-6 defender.
Darien Rankin, SHS, Sr.
The Rowan County Player of the Year didn’t need to score 21 points a game for Salisbury to be successful because he played on a team with five scoring threats.
He averaged a human 15.1 points a game, but when Salisbury needed him to take over, when the Hornets absolutely had to have a hoop, he took over. And when he made up his mind to go to the rim, there wasn’t much anyone could do to stop him.
Rankin led Salisbury to Moir Classic, CCC and sectional titles.
No doubt about it.
The No. 3 scorer all-time at Salisbury with 1, 378 points — and that’s going all the way back to the use of peach baskets. He’ll go down as one of the best football/basketball athletes the county’s seen.
Signed with UNC for football.
Nick Houston, Carson, Sr.
The 6-2 Houston reached 1,000 points for his career in Carson’s final game and finished his career as the No. 2 scorer in school history.
He was one of the top long-distance shooters in the county, averaging 18.2 points per game and scoring a school-record 37 against West Iredell.
He improved in every aspect of the game as a senior, and he usually made the Cougars competitive.
Samuel Starks, North, Sr.
The 5-10 Starks combined explosive athletic ability with determined defense and a smooth 3-point shot and was one of the county’s top five players.
There were an awful lot of games in which a dunk by Starks or a steal by Starks got the 1A state champion Cavaliers rolling.
He led a balanced team’s scoring with 11.1 points per game and popped in 19 (9-for-16 shooting) on his way to state championship game MVP honors.
Javon Hargrave, North, Sr.
Runner-up for YVC Player of the Year honors, Hargave used his strength and bulk to give North a powerful post presence.
He scored 19 points in the monumental Western Regional final against Winston-Salem Prep and averaged 10.5 points a game for the season.
He finished 10th in school history with 903 points.
Signed with South Carolina State for football.
Johnathan Gaddy, South, Sr.
The 5-9 Gaddy made one of the biggest jumps anyone’s ever made from his quiet junior season to his astounding senior year. He credited an offseason spent playing virtually non-stop for his improvement.
Very quick and tough to stay in front of, Gaddy averaged 3.3 points as a junior and 20.1 (second in the county) as a senior. His breakout season included a 33-point effort against NPC champ Statesville.
Gaddy’s 462 points rank seventh on South’s all-time chart for single-season scoring and his 20.1 points per game ranks fourth.
Jarrett Rivens, Salisbury, Jr.
The 6-6 Rivens came out of nowhere to score, block shots and dominate the boards. A newcomer to Salisbury after a move from Virginia, the lefty developed into an inside force for the Hornets in January and February.
He averaged 10.2 points a game for the season and bumped that to 14 ppg over the Hornets’ final 13 games. He had a 21-point outburst against Cuthbertson in a sectional final.
B.J. Sherrill, West, Sr.
The 6-1 Sherrill was such a great football QB that he never got proper credit for being a very solid basketball player. He made 3s, he used his thick body to drag down bushels of rebounds, and he was as good a leader as it’s possible to be.
He averaged 12.5 points, second on the team, and topped 700 for his career.
Pierre Givens, North, Jr.
After he joined the team in December for the Christmas tournament, it was clear the Cavaliers had a chance to make a run. He wound up playing basically a full season — 23 games.
The 6-2 Givens’ scoring average of 8.8 didn’t really describe his value. He was a clever ballhandler, a slick passer, a dedicated defender and a surprisingly tough rebounder for a guard.
He was a streaky outside shooter, but he usually was on in big games. He made many momentum-swinging 3s at the end of quarters — including a memorable one in the 1A state title game.
John Knox, Salisbury, Sr.
The things that can be said about B.J. Sherrill also can be said about Knox, Salisbury’s football QB. He brought a lot of refuse-to-lose leadership to the floor for the Hornets, made some big 3s and knocked down critical foul shots.
He averaged 12.6 points per game as a senior and finished 21st all-time at Salisbury in scoring with 737 points.
Malik Ford, North, So.
The tall, springy youngster — he’s listed at 6-7 — has only scratched the surface of what he may become, but he wants to be great, he works at it, and that’s a big step in the process.
Ford’s scoring average (7.2 points per game) wasn’t overwhelming, but he produced dunks and blocked shots that swung games.
His back-to-back slams in the state championship game were a huge part of North’s comeback from 19 down.
Jarvis Morgan, West, Jr.
A football receiver, the 6-3 Morgan used his athleticism to help West make a late-season charge to 18 wins.
Not a shooter, but he averaged 10.0 points by running the floor for layups and fighting for stickbacks.
He had the defensive wingspan of a much taller player and that led to a lot of steals, a lot of deflections and quite a few dunks.