Prep Basketball: South Davidson boys 61, East Rowan 49
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY — Feisty South Davidson coach Jim Young managed to keep his dapper gray blazer on for nearly 31 minutes in his debut at a new school.
That was a record for the well-traveled Young, who finally reduced his wardrobe in exasperation after a mental lapse by his Wildcats.
Young’s act is an entertaining one that many fans gathered in the East Rowan gym had seen before. He was East’s head coach back in 2003-04 when the Mustangs put together a winning season for the first time in 15 years and won a 3A playoff game.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this gym,” Young said, looking around cheerfully at his surroundings. “Sure, I wanted to get this one.”
He got it relatively easily. Even though SD twins Austin and Taylor Hatfield didn’t shoot the ball as efficiently as they usually do, they still teamed for 33 points. Austin scored 21, but his night included an 0-for-5 second quarter during which Young had to keep reminding him that if he kept taking his shots, they would eventually start falling.
“The twins weren’t on, but we played pretty good defense and hit the boards hard for a small team,” Young said.
The key guy for the Wildcats was actually rugged point guard Will Collins, who earned his 20 points — eight on free throws — with physical, acrobatic drives to the rim.
South Davidson jumped out 8-0 in the first 45 seconds, a burst that allowed visitors to play from in front all night.
“The thing is as good as they started, it didn’t rattle us,” East coach Trey Ledbetter said. “I think we’re a little more athletic than last year and a lot smarter than we were last year, and we had confidence we’d be OK.”
South Davidson went ice-cold in the second quarter — East’s defense had something to do with that — and settled for a 30-19 halftime lead.
Austin Hatfield found the range in the third quarter, knocked down two 3s and pushed the Wildcats out to a 49-34 advantage.
“The twins are unbelievably good players,” East’s Roby Holmes said. “We couldn’t help off them and that opened up driving lanes for some of their other guys.”
East made just two 3-pointers in the first half, but it nailed four in the third quarter — two by Weston Rogers — to stay in the hunt.
Then, with South Davidson hampered by foul trouble in the fourth quarter — Collins was whistled for his fourth foul on the offensive end as he muscled to the hoop with 6:14 remaining — the Mustangs made their run.
Holmes drilled two 3-pointers in 55 seconds to cut the deficit to 11 with 4:21 left.
When Jordan Shepherd swished a 3 and scored off a steal, the Mustangs trailed 51-45 with 2:44 to go and East fans were getting excited.
“Jordan’s our go-to guy, Hakeem (Gittens) just battled his tail off on the boards and Roby had the best game he’s had as a varsity player,” Ledbetter said. “We made a good run against a very good team. Jim’s got a team that reminds me a lot of the ones they had at East when they had the Vanderford brothers and Kenan McKenzie.”
East’s run ended when Austin Hatfield drilled a corner 3 with 2:25 left. It wasn’t a shot Young wanted with his team clinging to a six-point lead, but any shot that goes in is a good shot. Collins then whipped a pass inside to Austin Hatfield for a three-point play and sealed victory with a hard-nosed layup.
After the handshake line, former Mustangs Kurt Misenheimer, Michael Lefko and Eric Taylor came out of the crowd to congratulate a smiling, upbeat Young.
The current Mustangs were also feeling OK.
“We didn’t play as well as we could have,” Holmes said. “But I saw major upside when we got clicking together. We’ve just gotta stay clicked.”
SOUTH DAVIDSON (61) — A. Hatfield 21, Collins 20, T. Hatfield 12, Whitaker 4, Haneline 2, Cook 2, Hughes.
EAST ROWAN (49) — Shepherd 13, Hough 9, Holmes 8, Rogers 6, L’Hommedieu 5, Gittens 4, Means 2, Edwards 2, Honeycutt, Gobble.
S. David. 20 10 19 12 — 61
E. Rowan 9 10 15 15 — 49