YVC Boys Final: North Rowan 62, South Davidson 60
By Ryan Bisesi
BISCOE — All season long, the rest of the conference praised North Rowan’s depth.
With two starters on the bench in foul trouble, it was time to prove to everyone just how deep the Cavaliers were.
On the biggest stage and the loudest gym, the top-seeded Cavs squeezed every inch of its talent advantage and out-dripped a 62-60 win against No. 2 South Davidson in the YVC Tournament title game at East Montgomery Friday.
Pierre Givens and Michael Bowman picked up three fouls apiece in the first quarter, but North rolled up its sleeves and overcame a stout third-quarter run from South.
How else would the Cavaliers do it?
“When two players are on the bench in the first quarter and don’t play again until the third, and you’re still up at halftime, that’s a total team effort,” North coach Andrew Mitchell said. “Today, from the time we hit pre-game meal until the final buzzer sounded, it was a total effort from the program.”
Givens hit two free throws to put North up 59-56 with 24 seconds left. An Austin Hatfield 3 was off but brother Taylor Hatfield grabbed the rebound and made one of two freebies. Daniel Chambers was fouled after rebounding the second one and hit both of his at the line for a 61-57 edge with 15 seconds left. Chambers added another free throw in the final seconds. Taylor Hatfield’s 3 came with a second left and was too little, too late. It was what everyone expected from a pair of teams ranked in the top 10 in the state for much of the year.
“We knew we had to come out and play defense,” Givens said. “We did a lot better on guarding the [Hatfield] twins.”
It marked the Cavs’ second-straight conference tournament championship as they avenged their lone YVC loss from two weeks ago to the Wildcats in Denton.
“We didn’t go with heart last time,” said North’s Oshon West, who had a game-high 20 points. “Tonight we played with heart.”
South came out hot in the second half, hitting nine of its first 11 field goals and jetting to 38-33 lead after consecutive 3s from Taylor Hatfield. West calmed down and drained the next two baskets for North, but when Austin Hatfield got a steal and hit a short jumper at the end of the quarter, SD led 44-41 and the partisan crowd was going nuts.
“We showed strong character,” Mitchell said. “It was loud. It was rowdy. Some things didn’t go our way but we were still able to fight through it.”
Austin Hatfield added a free throw before Givens added two straight baskets, the last of which was a running one-hander that tied it at 45. Malik Ford, who finished with 10 points, got a putback to put the Cavs ahead.
Teresse Barber came in to provide relief and scored eight points, hitting three field goals in the second quarter. Barber hit the final shot of the first half, making it 22-18.
North held the ball for the final 4:30 of the half, with a off-balance 3 from West off the mark. South never came out of the zone defense.
“That probably did us a favor,” South Davidson coach Jim Young said. “We were playing six guys so it gave us a chance to rest.”
South got consecutive 3s from Austin Hatfield and David Whitaker to go up 26-25 early in the third quarter. Givens, back in the game, answered with a layup, but came down awkwardly on his ankle and hobbled off the floor before returning. The third quarter featured 11 lead changes.
“The assistant coaches did a good job of keeping me focused, keeping me from getting thrown out of the game,” joked Mitchell.
Michael Connor hit two free throws on a 1 and 1 situation with 3:08 left to give North a 50-49 lead and the Cavs never trailed again.
The Wildcats didn’t play their best. South sophomore Austin Hatfield, who went off for 34 points in the last meeting, didn’t score until the second half when he eventually tallied 16. More alarmingly, SD was just 7 of 21 from the foul line, including 2 of 8 in the first quarter. The Wildcats were playing without starter Jordan Hughes, who was injured in Thursday’s win against Albemarle.
“We missed a lot of shots that we normally make,” Young said. “Especially at the foul line. It wasn’t our best offensive night”
SOUTH DAVIDSON (60) — T. Hatfield 19, A. Hatfield 16, Whitaker 10, Collins 9, Cook 6, Haneline.
NORTH ROWAN (62) — West 20, Ford 10, Connor 9, Givens 8, Barber 8, Bowman 4, Chambers 3, Watlington.
S. Dav. 11 7 26 16 — 60
N. Rowan 12 10 19 21 — 62