Prep basketball: West Rowan boys 94, Carson 84 (OT)
By Mike London
CHINA GROVE — West Rowan star Keshun Sherrill drilled a 3-pointer three minutes into the second quarter, and Carson’s raucous student section offered a sarcastic salute.
“It’s about time,” they chanted cheerfully, acknowledging the visiting legend’s first points of the evening.
All Sherrill’s bucket did was cut Carson’s lead to 32-15, so the orange-clad students were in a merry mood for a reason. But there was a long way to go, and Sherrill would produce one of the best nights of his great career. He would finish with a personal-best 41 on Monday, and West would wipe out a 21-point deficit for an amazing 94-84 overtime victory.
“We didn’t panic,” said Sherrill, after lifting his career total to 1,802 points, the fourth-highest in county history. “One play at a time, one shot at a time, one stop at a time, we chipped away.”
D.J. Love (23 points) and Tre Williams (20) were tremendous for the Cougars. Love had a previous high of 13.
Sherrill, who had five steals, wasn’t a solo act. West got a career-high 17 points from Maurice Warren and 16 from Jarvis Morgan. The two senior forwards also combined for 20 rebounds.
“Maurice had that look in his eyes tonight,” West coach Mike Gurley said. “He had a will to succeed. This was just a great win for our team, especially the seniors. We gave ourselves a huge mountain to climb, but we did it.”
Carson was 21-for-21 from the free-throw line in regulation, which gives you an idea of the sort of shooting night the Cougars had. Coach Brian Perry’s sophomore-filled team was unbelievable early, scoring on 3s, scoring on drives and scoring on stickbacks. It was an energetic onslaught that caught the veteran Falcons (13-10, 8-3) completely by surprise.
“We did a good job of being aggressive against pressure,” Perry said. “We were getting easy looks and we were getting shots to fall.”
When the first quarter mercifully ended for West, seven Cougars had scored, while the scorebook space next to Sherrill’s name remained blank. It was 28-7.
“We came in here flat, and Carson picked up on it,” Sherrill said. “Carson played a great game.”
West pressed fullcourt from the second quarter on, with defensive demons Najee Tucker and Daisean Reddick creating havoc. West put up 25 points in the second quarter and chopped its deficit to 48-32 at halftime.
“We didn’t have any choice but to try to make it a fast-paced, high-possession game,” Gurley explained. “
Carson (7-16, 3-8) figured to cool off at some point. The Cougars had been in overtime twice at home, but they’d topped 70 points only once all season.
West forced nine turnovers in the third quarter and pulled within four points, but the Cougars pushed their lead back to 63-54 with a Jacob Raper 3-pointer and a layup by Colton Laws (14 points) that beat the third-quarter horn.
The fourth quarter was frantic, with every Carson pass an adventure and a potential steal.
Carson buried every free-throw opportunity and looked like it might weather the storm when it led 77-67 with 3:39 remaining, but the Falcons, primarily Sherrill, just kept coming.
Carson was clinging to a 79-75 lead when Love was called for a double-dribble with 1:41 remaining. Sherrill took it to the hole and the lead was down to two.
“They were playing man, so we spread the floor and put the ball in Keshun’s hands,” Gurley said.
When Carson turned it over again, Sherrill sailed to the hoop for a 79-all tie with 50 seconds left.
Dontae Gilbert nailed two clutch free throws for Carson’s last lead at 81-79 with 11 seconds left, but Sherrill got a short jumper to roll in just two seconds before the horn to force OT.
Sherrill took charge immediately in the OT and scored 11 of West’s 13 in the period. Travis Morgan produced a key steal that let West push its lead from four to six, and by then the Cougars were drained.
“We had a perfect opportunity for a good win,” Perry said. “We just got unsure with the ball. I think we started playing not to lose instead of staying aggressive and trying to finish them off.”
WEST ROWAN (94) — Sherrill 41, Warren 17, J. Morgan 16, Reddick 13, Tucker 3, T. Morgan 2, Martin 2, Cuthbertson, Gallagher, Hassard.
CARSON (84) — Love 23, Williams 20, Laws 14, Gilbert 11, Raper 9, Stout 3, Howard 2, Bigelow 2,
W. Rowan 7 25 22 27 3 — 84
Carson 28 20 15 18 13 — 94