Prep Basketball: West playing in East Coast Invitational
By Ronnie Gallagher
The summer basketball tour …
MOUNT ULLA — If this is a good weekend for West Rowan basketball, a trip to Rupp Arena may be waiting on the Falcons.
West’s varsity is currently participating in the East Coast Invitatonal in Jacksonville that lasts through Sunday. The winner of the First Flight championship will get to an all-expense-paid trip to the University of Kentucky’s famed arena.
“That’s a neat carrot” dangling out there for the teams, said West coach Mike Gurley.
Gurley started taking his team in 2003 after West won its second straight state championship — and the third of his career. He’d like to win as many Invitational games as possible, but there’s another reason the trip is more beneficial than scrimmages against other teams.
“One, it’s a game atmposhere with referees, real game rules and fans in the stands,” he said. “Two, the camaraderie. We wake up together. We eat every meal together. It’s like training camp.”
West will be one of 24 teams participating, including Kinston, Raleigh Millbrook, Reagan and Wilmington Hoggard. Dudley and Concord have backed out since their coaches were picked for East-West All-Star duty.
“Kinston’s got to be the favorite,” Gurley said.
Southern Wayne is in West’s division and is probably the favorite to come out on top.
The Invitational is also a time for Gurley to showcase senior Keshun Sherrill, who enters next season as the top player in Rowan County. The 5-10 guard averaged 18 points per game last year for a team that made it to the 3A Western Regionals and he should be one of the camp’s elite players.
Gurley said Sherrill has already received one Division I offer (N.C. A&T) while Division II schools like national power Augusta State have shown interest.
Other top players returning from West’s 18-win season are skywalker Jarvis Morgan and bullish Maurice Warren, both seniors.
Gurley called the Invitational, “a hard week” and said it’s like starting the conference tournament.
“You re-energize yourself,” he said. “It will be a fun camp.”
North Rowan won the 1A state championship last season and as scary as it may sound, the Cavaliers could be just as good.
Jordan Kimber and Pierre Givens are set to return in the backcourt. Inside, Andrew Mitchell has an even-bulkier 6-7 Malik Ford to team with 6-3 Daniel Chambers. Super sophs Michael Bowman and Michael Connor were instrumental in North’s 27-5 campaign.
At Carson, Brian Perry has been short on numbers. At the Catawba camp, there were times he only had six players.
The Cougars will be young but talented with 6-4 junior Rik Heggins returning. He’ll be joined inside by Myquon Stout, who is, well, stout. He’s a big sophomore off jayvee.
Perry said Donte Gilbert had looked good, adding names like Malachi Parker, Trey Williams, D.J. Love and Colton Laws who have been working hard.
Carson has scrimmaged A.L. Brown and also had a retreat for a couple of days so the Cougars could bond. They should improve on their 8-15 mark.
Salisbury will be bringing back a familiar face — not on the court, but on the bench.
Jason Causby left Salisbury last year to coach at North Hills but he has returned to replace Justin Morgan, who took over in an interim position. Morgan led the Hornets to the 2A Western Regionals.
A story on Causby’s return is upcoming.
Teams on the rebound are South Rowan (6-17) and East Rowan (1-20).
South coach John Davis has some good juniors in Josh Medlin and Eric Tyler. They’ll need to put up some numbers to take up for the losses of Johnathan Gaddy and Mark McDaniel.