Prep Basketball: West Rowan 78, South Rowan 70
Published 12:00 am Friday, December 16, 2011
By Mike London
LANDIS — “You can’t dunk!” South Rowan’s red-clad Raider Rowdies chanted at West Rowan’s Devin Parks when he laid the ball in on a fastbreak.
“You can’t score!” West’s camouflage-wearing student section bellowed right back at them.
It was a wild NPC game on Friday, but West always had a response for every South challenge and beat the Raiders 78-70.
When Josh Medlin, close enough to the Rowdies to high-five them, drained an impossible rainbow 3 over the soaring arms of West’s Jarvis Morgan at crunch time, Morgan shook his head, shook it off and buried a clutch jumper of his own.
“Medlin was on fire, no matter what I did,” Morgan said. “I couldn’t believe how he was shooting the ball tonight. He gets his props from me.”
It was a terrific game, with both teams embracing a racehorse pace. Medlin scored 27, two shy of his career high, but Keshun Sherrill’s 26 points and eight assists lifted the Falcons (3-3, 2-0 NPC).
South (1-8, 0-2) has an unimposing record, but this was the Raiders’ sixth close loss.
“South’s pretty good and John Davis is a good coach,” said Parks, who scored 15 points. “We expected a tough fight and that’s what we got.”
It was Parks that got the Falcons rolling. He had nine in the first quarter as West pushed ahead 19-15.
When designated shooter Seth Martin drilled two long corner 3s late in the first half — Morgan, who had 12 boards, and Sherrill set him up — West took a 42-31 lead to the break.
Davis was undaunted.
“We’re down 11 but what we talked about at halftime was that this was where we were going to turn the corner,” he said. “We wanted to look back on this game as our turning point.”
South almost got it done.
When Eric Tyler’s 3-pointer out of the left corner, rolled into the nets, Davis kicked wildly at the air like a bowler throwing his 10th straight strike, and the Raiders ignited. South’s 23-point quarter was due mostly to slasher Qua Neal, who had seven of his 17 in the period, and Medlin, who scored a dozen in the quarter.
West’s lead vanished, and when Neal’s runner rolled in off the forgiving rim in the South gym, it was 51-51.
“We played our butts off,” Davis said. “Great comeback.”
It was tied twice more in the quarter before Travis Morgan nailed a 3-pointer to put West ahead 57-54 going to the final eight minutes.
“All these 3-pointers are something I’m just going to have to get used to,” West coach Mike Gurley said, after watching the Falcons drain nine. “I’m just so used to us throwing it inside to our big guys, but we did shoot the ball well and Keshun played clutch. We had to play well. South was very good.”
Sherrill, as he usually does, controlled the game down the stretch. Davis warned his team Sherrill would try to take over, but his key 3-pointer put West up six.
Parks’ 3 pushed the lead to seven. Travis Morgan’s second 3-ball made it 68-58 with 3:25 left.
South scrapped back as close as four points, but West held on for its 12th straight win against the Raiders. South last beat the Falcons in the 2007 Moir tournament.
“Yeah, but this was a dogfight for 32 minutes,” Sherrill said. “South has very well-coached young kids, and they came at us hard tonight.”
WEST ROWAN (78) — K. Sherrill 26, Parks 15, Warren 10, J. Morgan 9, T. Morgan 7, Martin 6, Archie 3, Tucker 2, Reddick, Cuthbertson.
SOUTH ROWAN (70) — Medlin 27, Neal 17, Lambert 8, Allen 7, Spry 5, Tyler 3, Goodman 3, Washington, Buchanan, Parker, R. Sherrill.
W. Rowan 19 23 15 21 — 78
S. Rowan 15 16 23 16 — 70