Moir Christmas Classic: North Rowan boys 77, South Rowan 65
By Mike London
SALISBURY — North Rowan’s Pierre Givens fired a no-look pass that originated around his ankles, and a soaring Malik Ford flushed the ball with authority for one of his five dunks.
“The passes Pierre throws, I don’t know how he does it,” Ford said with a smile. “All I have to do is catch it and say thank you.”
South Rowan coach John Davis described Givens’ creative, NBA-ish dishes as “whip passes.”
Talented North was back on track Tuesday and handled South 77-65 in the first round of the Sam Moir Christmas Classic. The Cavs’ two-game losing streak is history.
“Playing with chemistry was our big goal,” said hard-working Oshon West, who contributed five offensive boards. “We did that, and it felt pretty good.”
Second-seeded North (7-2) got a career-best 20 points from Ford. Givens, who gives the Cavs a combination of structure and Showtime, controlled the game. He had 16 points and seven assists.
Michael Bowman and Jordan Kimber scored 10 each.
“We had practice pow-wows that focused on offensive rebounding and good defense,” North coach Andrew Mitchell explained. “In our two losses (to West Rowan and Salisbury), we were actually pretty efficient on offense, but we still looked pretty raunchy because we didn’t rebound and didn’t defend. Tonight was a positive. We crashed the boards and we were solid on defense.”
Qua Neal’s career-high 24 points kept the feisty Raiders (2-11) from being blown away. Shawn Spry hit three 3s and scored 15. Houston Allen dodged foul trouble long enough to put 13 in the book.
North got sweet 3s from Givens and Bowman at the outset and shot the ball incredibly well early against South’s zone defense. Givens’ second 3-pointer made it 17-9, and T.J. Bates knocked down a long 3-ball at the end of the first quarter for a 25-16 edge.
North led 41-27 at halftime and owned a 29-14 edge on the glass. At that point, the Cavs had 15 offensive rebounds to seventh-seeded South’s three.
Ford enjoyed a spree in the third quarter. His stickback made it 45-30, and his wicked slam off a Givens “whip pass” made it 47-32. His dunk off an inbounds play followed, and his three-point play pushed the lead to 52-33. Ford hit a free throw after Allen challenged his dunk attempt, and he still wasn’t done. He threw another one down for a 59-38 lead. That jam gave Ford, who came in averaging 7.0 points per game, 13 points in a span of four minutes.
“Coach told us we needed to get the big man involved, and he’d stay in it,” Givens said. “I was penetrating the gaps and looking opposite. I told everybody, ‘Keep your eyes on me, ‘cause I’m looking to dish.’ ”
Ford’s high-percentage rampage in the third quarter allowed North to shoot 55.6 percent in the second half.
“Things tend to even out in a basketball game,” Davis said. “We knew they couldn’t keep shooting from outside like they did early, but Ford had a monster night for them.”
South hung around and won the fourth quarter for the respectable final score.
“South makes you stay on your toes defensively,” Mitchell said. “They’ve got guys who can drive it, and Spry can bang it outside.”
North finished with 24 offensive boards and a 51-27 overall edge on the glass. The Cavs take on East Rowan today at 4:30 in a semifinal, while South plays rival Carson in a 1:30 consolation matchup.
SOUTH ROWAN (65) — Neal 24, Spry 15, Allen 13, Medlin 7, Washington 5, Sherrill 1, Lambert, Tyler, Glenn, Parker, Buchanan, Ouellette.
NORTH ROWAN (77) — Ford 20, Givens 16, Kimber 10, Bowman 10, West 6, Connor 4, Watlington 4, Bates 3, Barber 2, Chambers 2, Ellis, Tate.
S. Rowan 16 11 19 19 — 65
N. Rowan 25 16 24 12 — 77