Prep Basketball: East Rowan boys 42, Mount Pleasant 36

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 2, 2011

By David Shaw
GRANITE QUARRY ó Turn off the search lights and call off the hounds. East Rowan has found what it was looking for.
ěWe found a way to win,î second-year coach Trey Ledbetter said Friday night, moments after the Mustangs broke into the win column with a gritty, 42-36 victory over visiting Mount Pleasant. ěAnd thatís honestly the first time in a long time that weíve done that. Thatís a big step forward for this team.î
East (1-3) ó a team that dropped 20 of 21 decisions in Ledbetterís rookie season ó can thank seniors Jordan Shepherd, Hakeem Gittens and Roby Holmes. Each made contributions that go beyond the boxscore.
ěThe main thing is we got tired of losing all the time,î said Shepherd, the up-tempo swingman who scored a team-high 15 points. ěWeíre ready to go now.î
East found itself locked in an unattractive slugfest with the Tigers (2-2) and trailed 23-18 late in the third quarter. ěIt was a great defensive battle,î said losing coach Jason Seidel. ěWe were trying to keep it slow and along the way we had a couple of shots fall for us.î
East took its turn in the final two-and-a-half minutes of the third period. First Jared Hough buried a 3-pointer from the left corner. Then Shepherd canned a pair of picturesque long balls, pushing the Mustangs ahead 27-25.
ěOf course we are a little undersized so weíre gonna shoot some 3s,î Ledbetter said. ěThey just finally started going in.î
The Mustangs struggled from the field early, converting only one field goal in the first quarter and five in the first half. But they seemed rejuvinated and played with spark when it mattered most, using a little 7-0 run to build a 34-27 lead with 3:52 remaining. Key baskets included a driving layup by Weston Rogers, a steal and jailbreak layup by Hough and Shepherdís power drive layup from the left side.
ěWe had four seniors and a junior on the court at the end,î Ledbetter said. ěThey just rose to the occasion.î
No one rose higher than Holmes, who may have cemented the outcome when he knocked down a 3-pointer that made it 37-30 with 2:54 to play.
ěJordan drove in and drew my defender to him,î he said. ěThen he kicked the ball out to me and for once I didnít hesitate. I just put it up.î
Shepherd, who was muscling for position in the paint, had a birdís-eye view.
ěI was under the goal and I knew it was money when he put it up,î he said.
Mount Pleasant inched within 39-36 when senior Desmond Leach ó its most prolific outside shooter ó hit a 3-pointer from deep on the left side with 1:30 remaining. A small skirmish broke out just before Holmes cooly sank the front end of a one-and-one in the final minute. Shepherd closed the scoring with two more free throws with 19.3 seconds to go.
ěJordan put us on his back and said, ěGive it to me. Iíll be there.íî Ledbetter noted. ěThatís what seniors do.î
As the clock expired the Mustangs celebrated like wide-eyed third-graders at the circus. ěItís amazing,î Holmes beamed. ěItís the best feeling Iíve ever had.î

NOTES: Gittens had eight rebounds and was the hub of Eastís inside-out attack. … Hough drew three charges and teammate Donte Means made three steals. … East will host Salisbury on Monday.
MOUNT PLEASANT (36) ó Swaringer 17, Leach 14, Filberti 3, Parker 2.
EAST ROWAN (42) ó Shepherd 15, Hough 7, Rogers 5, Means 4, Holmes 4, Gittens 3, Edwards 2, LíHommedieu 2, Honeycutt, Gobble.
M. Pleas. 8 7 10 11 ó 36
E. Rowan 4 10 13 15 ó 42