Prep Basketball: East Rowan boys 57, South Rowan 40
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY — Many East Rowan students wore pajamas — for Senior Night, and their heroes responded by putting South Rowan to bed early.
Five of East’s nine 3-pointers splashed down in the first quarter, and the Mustangs and their all-senior starting lineup never looked back in a dominating 57-40 NPC win.
It was no surprise Jordan Shepherd (20 points) hit two of those early 3s. It wasn’t a shock when Weston Rogers made one. But there were reports that dozens of fans fainted when Roby Holmes buried the other two. Holmes, a ballhandler and defender, had scored 33 points all season and hadn’t scored six in one night since Dec. 9.
“When Roby’s making 3s, well, it’s our night,” Shepherd said with a smile. “That’s what we were all saying.”
It was indeed East’s night. It was in control after Shepherd drilled back-to-back 3s for a 9-4 lead four minutes into the game.
“Only one team showed up,” South coach John Davis said. “It was an humbling experience. We’ve got to make it a learning experience.”
East (12-9, 7-4) secured no worse than third place in the NPC, no small achievement for a school with plenty of sevenths, eighths and ninths and a couple of 10ths in its 53-year history.
It’s been a gratifying season for East coach Trey Ledbetter and veteran players who went a combined 3-39 the previous two seasons.
“Senior Night was a great night to get a little bit of our Mojo back, and we’ve been looking for it really since the Christmas tournament,” Ledbetter said. “Our focus was defense, and we played so hard that at times it looked like we had six guys out there. This was our most complete game all year.”
East won seven straight games prior to Christmas, but it lost momentum when Holmes (groin, quad) and Gittens were hobbled by injuries.
“But we got back on track tonight,” Shepherd said. “We were absolutely hyped up for Senior Night and we also wanted revenge. The game when South beat us (58-57 in Landis) has eaten at us.”
South, which came in on a roll, never got flowing offensively. Holmes keyed East’s defense by faceguarding Qua Neal. Neal initiates a lot of South’s halfcourt offense and scored 28 against Carson on Tuesday. He was held to six.
“Early in the game, we battled, but we kept missing pointblank shots,” Davis said. “And when we missed defensive assignments, East’s guys had time to set their feet and they knocked shots down.”
East got 54 points from its senior quintet of Shepherd, Rogers, Holmes, Gittens and Jared Hough. Gittens provided the exclamation point with his thunderous dunk with 4:32 left to play for a 51-35 lead.
“I heard our students yelling,” Gittens said. “I wanted to do something for them.”
SOUTH ROWAN (40) — Medlin 13, Lambert 7, Neal 6, Spry 4, Sherrill 4, Tyler 4, Allen 2, Buchanan, Parker, Goodman, Washington.
EAST ROWAN (57) — Shepherd 20, Rogers 10, Hough 9, Gittens 8, Holmes 6, L’Hommedieu 2, Means 2, Honeycutt, Gobble, Edwards, D. Nelson, Bradshaw, B. Nelson.
S. Rowan 8 8 15 9 — 40
E. Rowan 18 11 16 12 — 57