Prep Basketball: North Rowan boys 76, Chatham Central 30

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 2, 2011

By Ronnie Gallagher
SPENCER — The curtain has opened. Showtime in Spencer has begun.
Andrew Mitchell’s defending state 1A champion North Rowan boys did a little bit of everything to thrill their large crowd Friday night in the season opener, routing Yadkin Valley Conference foe Chatham Central 76-40.
Take your pick of offensive highlights from the starters:
• Mike Connor stealing the ball, breaking a few ankles and laying the ball in softly off the glass.
• Malik Ford taking a lob and flushing.
• Pierre Givens twirling passes around his neck for assists.
• Daniel Chambers powering up layup after layup.
• Mike Bowman slashing and scooping.
The subs weren’t too bad, either. When your first two Cavaliers off the bench are Oshon West and Jordan Kimber, you realize how scary of a team this can be.
“The guys who started worked hard and earned their position,” Mitchell said. “Whether (West and Kimber) start or come off the bench, they’re valuable.”
Connor, a slick 6-1 sophomore guard, got the Cavaliers going early. Three of his eight steals came in the first quarter. When he started the second period with a steal and layup, it was 24-5. The very next play, he came down on a fast break, dribbled behind his back and produced the prettiest scoop of the night. That basket would be his last points but he made an impression on his coach defensively.
“He got his hands on every ball,” Mitchell marveled. “We’ve been on him about playing defense and clowning around in practice.”
Lesson learned.
“I came out wanting my defense to get better,” Connor said. “We wanted to get out there and play. We were anxious.”
All three of the Cavaliers’ double-figure scorers were big men. Chambers scored three of the first four baskets of the third quarter and led the way with 15 points. Ford had 11 while Tydler Watlington added 10 off the bench.
He didn’t play many minutes but the 6-4 Watlington, a transfer from 3A Statesville, did his damage quickly, bullying over the smaller Bears.
“I’m really ready to play,” beamed Watlington, who said North’s style is similar to Statesville’s. “I’ve been waiting for this the whole year. I think I fit in. We all know how to post up strong down low.”
Speaking of West, he returned to North after a year at North Hills Christian. The first three possessions he was in, he had a rebound, an assist and a bucket. West had several nice dishes and scored eight.
Chatham Central coach Bill Slaughter, who predicted North’s state championship midway through last season, is just as impressed now.
“It’s awfully early, and I don’t know what anybody else in the state has,” he said, “but it’s going to take a whale of team to beat that bunch.”
When reserve Joe Robinson completed a 3-point play, North had a 46-point lead.
“That’s a heck of a club,” Slaughter whewed.
Mitchell’s biggest problem may be finding playing time for all of his scorers. His solution: defense.
“When we play defense, everybody can get layups,” Mitchell said. “Everybody can make nice passes. We can keep people happy if we play defense.”
Chatham Central’s Josh Edwards scored 10 in the first half as North went to the locker room with a 31-15 lead. Mitchell didn’t like it.
“We kinda threatened them,” he smiled, adding that if the Bears more than doubled their score in the second half, there would be a 6:30 a.m. Saturday practice.
“A lot of us want to go see West Rowan (in the 3A title football game) or Salisbury (the Hornets open their hoops season today),” Mitchell said. “So they dug in and tried to stop everybody.”
As Connor and the Cavaliers proved Friday night, Showtime in Spencer can be just as entertaining watching defense turn into offense.
CHATHAM CENTRAL (00) — Edwards 12, Burke 7, Jones 4, Brooks 3, Moody 2, Mordecai 2.
NORTH ROWAN (00) — Chambers 15, Ford 11, Watlington 10, West 8, Connor 7, Bowman 7, Kelly 6, Givens 5, Kimber 3, Robinson 3, Tate 1, Holshouser, Barber, Ellis.
C . Central 5 10 8 7 — 30
N. Rowan 22 9 27 18 — 76