East-West All-Star Basketball: West 107, East 97
By Mike London
GREENSBORO — West Rowan’s Mike Gurley usually has nervous knots in his stomach the size of basketballs on game days, but this time it was different.
Gurley assisted East Rutherford’s Brad “Bull” LeVine and helped the West stampede to a 107-97 win over the East in Monday’s East-West All-Star Game.
“Yeah, being an assistant is different than being head coach,” Gurley said. “I liked the part that my stomach wasn’t torn up, but then the game starts, and I wanted to elbow Brad out of the way and take control — and then Brad was elbowing me back. But seriously, Brad allowed me to coach and allowed me to be me. Brad and I are cut from the same cloth. That made for a very fun night.”
Four local players did their share.
West Rowan’s Keshun Sherrill and Davie’s Nate Jones scored 13 points each. Jones, who signed with Wallace State Community College in Alabama, hit only one outside shot, but he made his soaring drives to the basket count.
“That’s what I’ve worked on all summer, and it paid off tonight,” Jones said. “When the shots aren’t falling, I still can take it to the hole and draw fouls.”
Davie’s Shannon Dillard contributed eight points and eight rebounds, while North Rowan’s Pierre Givens chipped in with six points and two highlight-film assists, including an amazing no-look whip pass that helped get Jones rolling after the high-flyer started slowly.
“I told my teammates to run the floor and I’d be looking at them even if my eyes weren’t on them,” said a smiling Givens. I told them to run and the ball would be there.”
Givens, who hasn’t made a college commitment yet, and Dillard, who signed with Catawba, were late replacements but held their own.
The West team cruised to a 54-38 halftime lead and was up 22 points in the third quarter when the East team finally started knocking down shots.
The East fought as close as two points, but a dunk and a 3-pointer by MVP Shawn Lester, a UNC Charlotte signee out of Mooresville, helped the West maintain its composure.
“We got a little loose and the East dug down deep,” LeVine said. “But when their run came — and we knew it would come — we weathered that storm by sharing the ball. Sharing is what we talked about all week, and we put five guys in double figures. That means we shared.”
The East mauled the West on the glass at times, although the 6-4 Dillard helped even up the final rebounding numbers.
“The coaches told us if we would rebound, we would win this game,” Dillard said.
Dillard nailed his patented turnaround baseline shot — a move he practices relentlessly after watching his hero Kobe Bryant execute it — for two huge fourth-quarter points. Jones came through with two clutch free throws late to seal victory.
“It was great having those Davie guys on my side,” said Sherrill, who has watched Dillard and Jones batter West Rowan more than once.
Sherrill contributed immensely to his team’s victory — far beyond his points.
“He’s the best guy we had with the ball in his hands,” LeVine said. “He made good decisions down at the end.”
On the critical possessions, Sherrill made sure his team got layups or free throws.
“My points didn’t matter, but winning meant everything to me,” Sherrill said. “I had two brothers play in this game (Jamel Carpenter in 2007 and K.J. Sherrill in 2009) and they both won this game. I had a tradition to carry on.”
The West carried on a tradition of recent all-star wins (six of the last eight) with the leadership of an excitable but compatible coaching staff.
“Mike Gurley is a lot like me,” LeVine said. “He’s just as emotional. That’s what made us click so well.”
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