Prep Basketball: West Rowan boys 85, North Rowan 71
By Mike London
SPENCER — The presence of former West Rowan heroes Donte Minter and Terris Sifford, who towered side-by-side in the doorway of the North Rowan gym, must have been inspiring.
West played like it did in its glory days and whipped North Rowan 85-71 on Wednesday.
You don’t expect to see a coach empty the bench when these rivals get together in a packed gym, but North coach Andrew Mitchell waved a white flag and sent in his subs with 1:30 still on the clock.
“I just feel very fortunate and happy to beat such a good team,” West coach Mike Gurley said. “North has great coaching, solid guards and big posts, but we just shot the ball really, really well tonight.”
Even though he was averaging 20 points per game, West’s sensational senior guard Keshun Sherrill hadn’t been making outside shots.
That drought ended. He buried five 3-pointers in the first half and was on his way to 37 points. That matched the career-high he set against West Iredell last season. He has 1,476 career points and passed Jamel Carpenter for fourth on West’s all-time scoring list.
Ahead of him now are bona fide county legends — K.J. Sherrill, Minter and Scooter Sherrill.
“It felt good to shoot the ball like that, and a lot of our other guys were shooting it well too,” Keshun said. “But this game was mostly about toughness. North puts some very strong bodies on the floor, but we were willing to scrap.”
North (6-2) weathered Sherrill’s 11-point first quarter, and it was tied 26-all three minutes into the second after Jordan Kimber made a layoff off a steal.
But when Sherrill drilled another 3, Devin Parks tossed in a contested jumper, and Daisean Reddick flipped in a bucket after a scramble on the boards, West went up seven.
Travis Morgan drilled a 3, and Sherrill knocked down another one that beat the horn and put West ahead 45-35 at halftime.
“When you’ve got a guard as good as Keshun, you’re going to be in every game,” Mitchell said. “We couldn’t stop the dribble-penetration (from Sherrill and Parks) when we were in man-to-man and we didn’t stop it with our 2-3 or 1-3-1 zones.”
West (4-4) kept scoring frequently in the third quarter. If it wasn’t Sherrill, it was Parks (17 points, eight assists) doing the damage.
“When they tried to deny Keshun, Devin did a nice job of taking care of the ball and he has great vision,” Gurley said. “He was outstanding.”
Down 13 heading to the fourth quarter, the North crowd had waited patiently for a run and finally got it. Michael Connor (16 points) got hot and a 3-pointer, and a free throw by Pierre Givens cut West’s lead to 70-62 with four minutes left.
But the backbreaker came for the Cavs moments later when rugged West offensive lineman Chris Hassard (making his season debut) and a soaring Jarvis Morgan (10 rebounds) kept a ball alive on the offensive glass with a flurry of five rebounds. Finally, Parks stuck it in. That was game, set and match.
“We beat ourselves up a little bit after losing to East Rowan on Monday,” Parks said. “But we were ready to compete tonight. Our goal was to play harder than North did.”
The Cavs didn’t dispute that.
“We’ve got a bull’s-eye on us, and everyone wants to beat us,” Givens said. “West has good athletes, but we’ve got to have more heart than we showed tonight. We’re not so good we can just turn it on and off.”
“The easy wins in our league gave us a false sense of security,” he said. “We’re not as good as people are telling our kids they are. They rejected coaching tonight and didn’t listen, and when you do that against a good team you get beat.”
WEST ROWAN (85) — Sherrill 37, Parks 17, T. Morgan 11, Martin 5, Warren 4, Gallagher 2, Archie 2, J. Morgan 2, Reddick 2, Blackwood 2, Hassard 1, Tucker.
NORTH ROWAN (71) — Connor 16, Givens 14, West 12, Kimber 10, Ford 9, Watlington 6, Bowman 4, Barber, Bates, Kelly, Holshouser, Tate.
W. Rowan 20 25 19 21 — 85
N. Rowan 17 18 16 20 — 71