Prep basketball: West Rowan boys 55, Salisbury 39

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 23, 2011

By Mike London
MOUNT ULLA — Salisbury guard Buster Hillie had to put up a prayer with the first half winding down.
West Rowan’s Jarvis Morgan soared so high he could have looked a giraffe in the eye, and he rejected the shot in the general direction of Mooresville.
“Well, just two seconds to go, and who in the gym didn’t know he was going to have to shoot it?” Morgan said. “It was an easy block, but I’ll tell you this — Buster can shoot. If I hadn’t blocked it, he would’ve made it.”
Morgan’s high-flying moment stood out on Thursday in a struggle between a Salisbury team that looked drained and a West team that looked exhausted. West didn’t have the crispness or shooting touch it showed when it whipped North Rowan 24 hours earlier, but the Falcons were mentally tough enough to handle the Hornets 55-39.
“We didn’t play to the best of our ability,” Morgan said. “It was a pretty sloppy game.”
The game’s low ebb was the third quarter. The teams combined to score just 15 points.
“Fatigue was a factor for both teams,” said West’s Mike Gurley, who earned his 318th win at West and 420th overall. “Both of us played last night, and the legs weren’t quite there.”
After some turkey and some rest, the Hornets (4-5) and Falcons (5-4) will go at it again next Tuesday in the Sam Moir Christmas Classic.
West’s Keshun Sherrill didn’t have the automatic jumper he had against North, but he used his head to get to the foul line. He went 12-for-14 from the stripe and scored 22 points. He’s just two points shy of 1,500 for his career, and that’s a milestone only seven male players in county history have achieved.
“Keshun’s a great player,” teammate Maurice Warren said. “He knows the game.”
Sherrill’s chief offensive support came from Warren, a defensive lineman who moonlights as a power forward. Warren scored 11, two fewer than his career high.
“We lost a lot of offense from last year, so I’ve tried to do a lot more,” Warren said. “When you’re a senior, you have to help lead the team.”
Salisbury started ice-cold, and West got early points from Sherrill, Warren, Jack Gallagher and Travis Morgan to grab an 8-1 lead. Building from there, the Falcons were ahead 21-12 after a quarter and 33-20 at halftime.
Tony Nunn, the big post man who leads the Hornets in scoring, didn’t play in the first half. That was a major factor.
“Coach’s decision,” Salisbury’s Jason Causby said. “We’ve still got things to iron out. Some trials and tribulations we’re going through.”
Hillie scored 16, including eight in a fourth-quarter flurry, but the Hornets shot a miserable 22.9 percent. Many misses were deep bombs against West’s 1-2-2 zone. Some went in-and-out, but few fell, and the Falcons never permitted SHS to get closer than 10 in the final quarter.
Bright spots for the Hornets included solid efforts from Hillie, Tyler Petty, Keion Adams and defensive-minded Da’Quan Robertson.
“We didn’t have any lulls where we slept-walked,” Causby said. “We played hard, but we weren’t really focused. We couldn’t harness our effort in the right direction.”
SALISBURY (39) — B. Hillie 16, Adams 6, T. Petty 4, Griffin 4, Woods 3, Nunn 2, Robertson 2, Duncan 2, McCain, J. Petty, Tracey, K. Hillie.
WEST ROWAN (55) — Sherrill 22, Warren 11, J. Morgan 8, Parks 7, T. Morgan 2, Gallagher 2, Archie 2, Reddick 1, Martin, Tucker, Hassard, Blackwood
Salisbury 12 8 9 10 — 39
W. Rowan 21 12 6 16 — 55