Prep Basketball: North Rowan boys 66, Chatham Central 55
By Ryan Bisesi
BISCOE — North Rowan got welcomed by the stretch run Tuesday night.
North started its season with a romp of Chatham Central, but the semifinals of the YVC Tournament saw the Bears give NR one of its most demanding wins of the year in a 66-55 triumph at East Montgomery.
Pierre Givens dropped 15 of his 17 points in the second half and dished out eight assists in a victory that carried a different tone then the 76-30 and 76-41 margins North beat Chatham by in the regular season.
Past matchups were forgotten when the Bears were up 17-11 after one quarter. The Cavs bolted to a 35-4 lead Tuesday against South Stanly but were going to have to sweat this one out.
“We’ve got to get ourselves together if we want to be a championship team,” Givens said. “It’s a good wake up call.”
No matter how, North advanced to the YVC title game for the third straight year. Friday, the Cavs face the winner of South Davidson and Albemarle.
North (22-3) scored the last six points of the half to lead 28-26, though you couldn’t see any relief from North coach Andrew Mitchell, who bolted for the locker room at the horn.
“We knew that this was going to happen,” Mitchell said. “We had to re-focus. That’s a good basketball team and they’re playing really well right now. Anybody who makes it to this point is good.”
Givens’ floater in the lane late in the third quarter gave North the lead for keeps at 42-40. The senior nailed a trey moments later to make it 47-40. Zach Burke hit a pair of free throws for Chatham to cut it to 49-44.
The Cavs overcame a 10-for-27 night at the foul line and six turnovers in the first quarter. Burke and Josh Edwards both got steals and ensuing layups to gain a 15-9 edge.
“We’ve played with a lot of confidence the last three or so weeks,” Chatham Central coach Bill Slaughter said. “We knew it take a perfect game to beat them.”
Chatham (13-13) almost got it. Burke led all scorers with 20 points and Edwards and Jackson Goodwin added 10 apiece.
“They made it to the semifinals so we knew they could play ball,” Givens said.
North’s height advantage was transparent with big nights from Malik Ford (15 points) and Tydler Watlington (season-high 13 points). Ford started the game off with a dunk. Watlington got two straight easy baskets off assists from Givens early in the third quarter. Both tipped in missed free throws for baskets.
The teams traded punches early in the fourth quarter. North’s Michael Bowman rebounded a missed free throw and put it up for a and-1. Burke came back and got a 3-point play to cut it to 52-49. Givens hit a three on the other end from the top of the key seconds later.
“We told (Givens) if they don’t want it, then you need to take over,” Mitchell said. “You’re vying for (conference) Player of the Year. Player of the Years don’t let their team get beat in these games.”
Ford finished a layup after the Cavs killed over a minute to make it 61-53 with 2:51 left. Goodwin hit a jumper on the next possession, but CC didn’t score again.
CHATHAM CENTRAL (55) — Burke 20, Edwards 10, Goodwin 10, Mordecai 5, Moody 4, Kerr 2, Fewell 2, Jones 2.
NORTH ROWAN (66) — Givens 17, Ford 15, Watlington 13, West 7, Connor 6, Bowman 6, Chambers 2, Bost, Ellis, Kelly, Barber.
Chat. C. 17 9 18 11 — 55
N. Rowan 11 17 21 17 — 66