Prep Basketball: West Rowan boys 49, Salisbury 48

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 14, 2011

By Mike London
SALISBURY — West Rowan’s Keshun Sherrill appeared to be hemmed in, but he squirmed free and drove all the way from the backcourt to the rim to decide Wednesday’s game.
The senior’s flying layup with 7.1 seconds left provided the decisive points in a 49-48 win at Salisbury.
“Keshun came dashing through the snow,” is how winning coach Mike Gurley merrily put it.
Gurley spent most of the night patiently waiting for Sherrill’s sleigh to come into view. Salisbury defended the elusive, all-star guard about as well as it can be done, holding him to 11 points, just 24 hours after he’d torched Statesville for 32.
“The role I was given was to focus on stopping Keshun,” said Salisbury’s muscular Keion Adams, who teamed with D.J. Griffin to limit Sherrill. “We knew we couldn’t let him get as many shots off as he usually does.”
It wasn’t like Sherrill was missing frequently, but he only had 10 field-goal attempts and he had zero free-throw opportunities.
“Adams and Griffin did a great job against me — they’re both great defenders,” Sherrill said. “All my respect to both those guys.”
West (2-3) still had to get a defensive stop after Sherrill’s clutch bucket.
Salisbury coach Jason Causby explained that the first option was to inbound the ball into the left corner with 6-foot-8 Tony Nunn isolated against a lone defender on the left block.
But West denied the pass to the post. The second option was to swing the ball crosscourt. Instead, it wound up in the hands of guard Buster Hillie at the top of the circle.
“We only swing the ball halfway, so Buster has to take a bad shot,” Causby explained. “He’s got the ball with four seconds left, so there was time for one more pass, but the clock’s behind him, and there’s no way he can know that.”
Hillie launched a tough shot with Sherrill soaring all around him.
“I knew I had to contest the shot, but to contest without fouling him,” Sherrill said.
That’s what he did. The rebound caromed long. Nunn grabbed it and put up a desperate turnaround that would have been in time. But it was off, and West celebrated.
Nunn caused problems for the Falcons with his height and thick body. He finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks.
Jarvis Morgan had 12 points and 12 boards for West.
West controlled the first half because of backup post man Kiero Cuthbertson. With Maurice Warren in early foul trouble, Cuthbertson provided points (11), boards and bulk. He helped West grind to a 29-22 halftime lead.
“We feel good about both our backup posts — Kiero and Travis Morgan,” Gurley said. “The Statesville game was a Travis game, and he made some plays. With the big bodies out there tonight, this was a Kiero game. The story was how well Kiero played in the first half and how well Maurice played in the second half when he got back in there.”
Nunn opened the second half with back-to-back rejections, and West’s lead was down to 41-39 heading to the final quarter.
West led 47-41 after Sherrill scored off a steal with 5:09 left, but Tion McCain’s 3-pointer pulled the Hornets within one, and Nunn’s slam with 40 seconds left put the Hornets (3-3) ahead 48-47 and had the gym rocking.
When B.J. Woods took a charge with 34 seconds to go, the Hornets had the ball and the lead. The Falcons had only four team fouls, so they had to hack three times to send the Hornets to the line. After McCain missed the front end of a one-and-one, Sherrill set sail on his winning drive.
“This was the most discipline and most resilience we’ve shown so far this year,” Causby said. “The guys are upset right now, but we made progress. I hate we had to experience a loss like this, but we got a lot better tonight.”
WEST ROWAN (49) — J. Morgan 12, Sherrill 11, Cuthbertson 11, Parks 6, Warren 6, Reddick 3, Archie, T. Morgan, Martin, Tucker, Gallagher.
SALISBURY (48) — Nunn 17, B. Hillie 7, Woods 6, Griffin 5, Banner 4, McCain 4, Adams 3, Robertson 2, Duncan, T. Petty, Jones, J. Petty, Tracey.
W. Rowan 15 14 12 8 — 49
Salisbury 10 12 17 9 — 48