Prep basketball: North Rowan boys 80, South Stanly 24
By Mike London
SPENCER — The crowd roared three times.
First for Whitney Houston’s stirring version of the national anthem.
Next for a bucket by South Stanly’s Trenton Weathers five minutes into the game that finally put his team on the scoreboard.
The final noise came when South Stanly’s Juwan Johnson actually blocked a shot attempt by North Rowan’s Michael Connor.
Sophomores Connor and Michael Bowman scored 12 points apiece as North buried overmatched South Stanly 80-24 in a first-round, no-contest in the YVC tournament on Tuesday in Spencer.
“We came out focused,” Connor said. “And then we kept it going.”
It could’ve been a lot worse. It could’ve been 140-14. It could’ve been anything North wanted it to be.
It was 35-4 after the first quarter. North’s starters didn’t play after that, except for a couple of minutes to open the second half.
“When they’re focused, they’re scary-good,” South Stanly coach Sean Whitley said of the fourth-ranked Cavaliers. “Coach (Andrew) Mitchell had them in playoff mode, and that’s a tribute to him. The two times we played them earlier, they kind of did just enough, but they were different tonight. They had intensity in their press and they had intensity in their man-to-man.”
Top-seeded North (21-3) had beaten the eighth-seeded Rebel Bulls (5-19) by scores of 71-34 and 84-37 in the regular season.
“We’re in the stretch run now,” Mitchell said. “We have to appreciate every game now because it’s all going to go by very fast, especially for our seniors. We’re focusing on defense, and if we keep working, we could win another state title.”
North’s defense was fierce enough in the first quarter that South Stanly turned it over 13 times, while getting off just nine shots.
“They brought it,” Whitley said. “And we were on the wrong end of it.”
Connor had three and-ones in a hurry. North’s early flurry came off steals by Connor, Bowman, Oshon West and Pierre Givens, and with North leading 12-0, 6-foot-7 Malik Ford rejected a South Stanly layup try toward Norwood.
“We had fun,” Ford said. “That’s about all I can say.”
North’s tall second unit hammered South Stanly in the second quarter, and North took a 48-7 lead to the locker room.
“About all we do in practice is defense,” said senior backup Daniel Chambers. “We put that to work tonight. We know defense is what it takes to win championships.”
Backup big man Tydler Watlington was strong in the third quarter, as North took a 69-12 lead. The Cavs had a shot at the school record for fewest points allowed — 18 — but South Stanly’s Johnson and Corey Craig didn’t let that happen. They teamed for 12 in the fourth quarter.
Kihrey Ellis, a third-team post man for the Cavaliers, scored nine points in the final quarter, and newcomer Mike Bost looked sharp.
“Bost adds to our team,” Mitchell said. “He was a great leader and scorer for our (19-1) jayvees.”
North plays a 7:30 p.m. semifinal tonight at East Montgomery. Whitley expects the Cavs to do OK.
SOUTH STANLY (24) — Johnson 11, Craig 7, Weathers 2, Golden 2, C. Ford 1, Richardson 1, Granados, Weiker, Poplin, Patterson, Pope.
NORTH ROWAN (80) — Bowman 12, Connor 12, Ellis 11, Ford 9, Bost 6, West 6, Watlington 6, Givens 6, Barber 5, Chambers 3, Kelly 2, Tate 2, Holshouser, Lemmon.
S. Stanly 4 3 5 12 — 24
N. Rowan 35 13 21 11 — 80