Prep Basketball: North Rowan boys 64, Albemarle 35
By Ryan Bisesi
SPENCER — The North Rowan boys were already up big, but it wasn’t showtime until Malik Ford’s eyes met Mike Connor’s.
Ford casually laid one in during the second quarter on a breakaway, but slammed this one home on an alley-oop to excite the crowd in Spencer, which has much to cheer about these days.
“I wanna dunk every night,” Ford said with a laugh. “Most of the time, it’s eye contact with [Connor] and we got it.”
For the Cavs, the court has been their oyster. The defending state champs have seen three walkthroughs in three games so far, the latest of which was a 64-35 win against Albemarle Friday night.
Their average margin of victory? 35 points.
“This is my 28th year coaching basketball at Albemarle and I’ve seen a lot of really good teams and they’re right up there,” Albemarle coach Al Andrew said. “They’re experienced and talented at both ends of the floor and it showed.”
North (3-0) scored the game’s initial 11 points and led 16-2 after one quarter. Defensively, the Cavs wer just as tenacious as the Bulldogs didn’t score until a basket with 1:51 left in the first quarter.
“When we come out and scrap on defense like that, I think we can be pretty good,” said North coach Andrew Mitchell, making a pretty obvious statement.
Connor opened the game with a trey and Bowman hit two free throws to account for all the offense with 4:24 left in the first quarter. Connor and Bowman hit consecutive baskets and Ford hit one from close range to make it 11-0. Despite the lack of early points, the defensive pressure made it an opposing coach’s worst nightmare.
“We’re young and inexperience and it showed,” Andrew said. “We’ve only been together for two weeks.”
Albemarle (0-2) split with North during the regular season last year, but only returned two from that team.
No one lit up the scorebook as Connor’s 12 points were a team-high among nine Cavs that scored, but North’s depth saw it gain 16 points in every quarter. It was a sound performance heading into a much- anticipated matchup with Salisbury tonight.
The Cavs weren’t looking ahead, but were moving around, especially on defense.
“We struggled early offensively,” Mitchell said. “We were very aggressive on defense and that kept us in the game so we could get some shots going down.”
Albemarle climbed within 20-12, but Jordan Kimber got fouled shooting a 3 and hit all his free throws to push the lead to double digits. It would stay there.
Connor hit a layup at the buzzer to make it 32-15 at halftime. The Cavs kept the foot on the gas with Ford’s dunk and Kimber’s 3-pointer to start the second half.
“When we get up, we continue to play hard,” Mitchell said. “They encourage one another a lot.”
Daniel Chambers and Tydler Watlington hit baskets near the end of the third quarter and North led 48-19. The lead broached 30 at 55-25 thanks to another shot from Chambers.
Ford each Raheem Kelly each scored eight points with Michael Bowman, Chambers and Watlington each had six.
“It’s a good family group,” Mitchell said. “That’s the best thing about this team. ”
ALBEMARLE (35) — Christian 12, Autry 8, Childress 3, Deese 3, Williams 2, Blanton 2, Brown 2, Lilly 2, Prince 1, Currie.
NORTH ROWAN (64) — Connor 12, Kimber 11, Kelly 8, Ford 8, Chambers 6, Watlington 6, Bowman 6, Givens 5, Ellis 2, West, Barber, Holshouser.
Albemarle 2 13 4 16 — 35
N. Rowan 16 16 16 16 — 64