Prep basketball: West Rowan boys 53, East Rowan 35
By Mike London
STATESVILLE — Mike Gurley’s 15 seasons as West Rowan head’s coach have been about championships — 10 of the regular season variety, plus six conference tourney titles, seven regional trips and two 3A state crowns.
The second-seeded Falcons earned the right to play for still more hardware on Thursday. They rode a marvelous, all-purpose game by senior Jarvis Morgan and drilled East Rowan 53-35 in a semifinal game in the NPC tournament.
Keshun Sherrill, Maurice Warren and Najee Tucker joined Morgan in double figures.
West (16-10) squares off with top-seeded Statesville for the title tonight at 8 p.m. The teams split regular-season meetings.
“We wanted to play for a championship and we had a point to prove,” said Morgan, who finished with 14 rebounds and six assists. “Now it’s Statesville, and I think that’s the matchup everyone expected.”
West will be in the NPC final for the fourth straight season. The Falcons lost to Lake Norman in 2009, but they beat Statesville (in overtime) in 2010 and repeated in 2011.
“Statesville’s really good, but it’s gonna be fun,” Gurley said. “Win, lose or draw, it’ll make us better for the playoffs.”
Third-seeded East (13-11) also will be in next week’s playoffs, although it’s limping. The Mustangs have dropped six of their last 10 outings.
“We’re tired, just really tired legs right now,” East coach Trey Ledbetter said.
West led 25-15 at halftime and never was threatened in the second half. East outscored the Falcons 21-0 from the 3-point line, but it hardly mattered.
“I don’t think we’ve made a 3-pointer in Statesville’s gym since 2006, but we didn’t rely on that,” Gurley said. “We shared the sugar.”
West shot sweet layups. Lots and lots of layups.
“West’s gameplan was to take advantage of their bigs and be physical with us inside, and they did a great job of that,” Ledbetter said. “Morgan was just outstanding.”
East controlled a deliberate tempo for the most part, but West was incredibly efficient on offense, especially in the second half when the Falcons shot 13-for-19.
“We didn’t get back defensively and we just really never did anything much to stop them,” Ledbetter said.
Weston Rogers kept East respectable with four 3s and matched his career high of 14 points. Jordan Shepherd added 10, but East’s offense was mostly smothered by Morgan, Tucker and Daisean Reddick. Jared Hough, who gets 10 points per game for the Mustangs and had 16 in the first round, was shut out.
“East dissected us some earlier this year with their passing,” Gurley said. “But tonight, our man was good.”
The teams have split four meetings.
“We let West in the paint way too much and Morgan was a beast,” East guard Roby Holmes said. “He was jumping out of the gym.”
NOTE: West finally got promising Alexis Archie back from a serious hand injury.
EAST ROWAN (35) —Rogers 14, Shepherd 10, Gittens 8, Holmes 3, L’Hommedieu, Gobble, Honeycutt, Hough, Means, D. Nelson.
WEST ROWAN (53) — Sherrill 11, J. Morgan 10, Tucker 10, Warren 10, T. Morgan 6, Long 2, Martin 2, Blackwood 2, Archie, Cuthbertson, Reddick, Gallagher, Hassard.
E Rowan 6 9 10 10 — 35
W Rowan 10 15 14 14 — 53