• 63°

All-Rowan Basketball: Salisbury's Rankin boys player of the year

By Ronnie Gallagher
rgallagher@salisburypost.com
According to the players and coaches assembled for the 2011 All-County basketball photo shoot Wednesday at Catawba, Salisbury’s Darien Rankin could have easily scored over 20 points a game this season.
If he had wanted to.
But that’s just it. Rankin, the repeat winner as Rowan County Player of the Year, wanted to win more than he sought individual stats.
“You could ask Darien if he’d rather score 50 points and have a close game or not score and win the game,” said Salisbury coach Justin Morgan. “He’ll say he’d rather win.”
Rankin averaged 15 points as the 6-foot-1 star became more of a rebounder, passer and defender. It all helped the Hornets to a Western Regional berth.
A perfect example of Rankin’s team play came in the first game of the Moir Christmas Classic, a 98-66 win over South Rowan. He scored 12, but was one of six Hornets in double figures.
Ah yes, the Moir Classic. The biggest sporting event of the year in Rowan County has been Rankin’s personal playground over the past three years. He was named MVP of the tournament for the third time.
Rankin would score when his team needed him the most. In the Moir semifinals, he put up 20 points and sank two clutch free throws to beat the eventual 1A state champ North Rowan, 79-77.
“You have to really prepare for him,” North coach Andrew Mitchell said. “It’s real scary. It’s like having to plan for Kobe or Michael Jordan. You have to sit down and really game-plan and figure out how you’re going to handle him. He can beat you by himself.”
That’s the beauty of this past season. Rankin didn’t have to do it by himself. He took great pleasure in dishing to big men Jarrett Rivens and Alex Weant, or guards Corey Murphy and John Knox.
“Darien accepted those guys and he was happy for them,” Morgan said.
Other all-county players said they looked forward to playing Rankin.
“It was a good experience for me to have somebody that athletic guarding me,” said West Rowan junior Keshun Sherrill, the county’s leading scorer (18 ppg). “When you have a body like that, it’s tough.”
Sherrill’s teammate, B.J. Sherrill added, “It was fun, but it wasn’t that good. He beat us dating back to middle school. I’m glad I don’t have to play against him again.”
Asked if he ever guarded Rankin, B.J. laughed.
“I was way too slow to guard him.”
Perhaps Rankin’s best matchups came against North’s Sam Starks, the MVP of the state 1A title game.
“It was fun,” said Starks, who always guarded Rankin. “I did pretty good and he did the same on the other end playing me.”
When Rankin wanted to score, look out.
In a CCC matchup against Lexington for first place, Rankin exploded for 33. The next game he had 23 against East Davidson. He finished the season by hitting double figures in his last 11 games and finishing his career with 1,358 points.
Rankin said he was honored to get the Player of the Year award.
“I respect everybody I play against,” he said. “We always bring the competitiveness.”
Morgan just loves the fact Rankin proved what an all-around player he was and it was the main factor in Salisbury finishing 20-7.
“What made him special is he did what it took to win the game,” Morgan said. “We’d have 3, 4 guys in double figures and it was always a result of Darien’s play. He was always unselfish.”

Comments

Comments closed.

Crime

Man charged after thieves rob would-be gun buyers of wallets, shoes

Crime

Blotter: Four added to sheriff’s most wanted list

High School

High school football: Some anxious moments, but Hornets win state title

Local

Photos: Salisbury High Hornets win big in 2AA championship game

Local

County manager outlines projections for the upcoming fiscal year budget, suggests uses for stimulus money

Business

Miami-based Browns Athletic Apparel opens second screen printing location in Salisbury

News

At funeral, fallen Watauga deputies remembered as ‘heroes’

Coronavirus

COVID-19 cluster identified at Granite Quarry Elementary

Coronavirus

More than half of North Carolinians have now taken at least one vaccine shot

Local

City hopes to cover expenses in 2021-22 budget with surplus revenue generated this year

Local

Fallen tree proves to be a blessing for local nonprofit Happy Roots

Local

Quotes of the week

Coronavirus

Health department drops quarantine time from 14 to 10 days

Crime

Blotter: More than $100,000 in property reported stolen from Old Beatty Ford Road site

Local

City fights invasive beetles by injecting trees with insecticide

Local

City names downtown recipients for federal Parks Service grant

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs 2021-22 budget priorities, supports buying body cameras

Education

Educators reflect on Teacher Appreciation Week

Education

Livingstone College wins $30,000 Home Depot grant

Education

Shoutouts

News

Shield-A-Badge With Prayer program enters 26th year, accepting volunteers to pair with officers

Education

COVID-19 infection, quarantine numbers in Rowan-Salisbury Schools reach new highs

High School

High school football: Offensive line came together for Hornets, who play for state title tonight

Local

Pro baseball: White makes pro debut and says, ‘It felt amazing to be out there’