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Prep Basketball: Cuthbertson 71, North Rowan 56

By David Shaw
dshaw@salisburypost.com
CHARLOTTE – North Rowan failed to win a game in the third annual Charlotte Hoops Challenge, but it wasn’t a lost weekend for the Cavaliers.
Coach Andrew Mitchell used the two-game invitational at Waddell High School as a measuring stick of sorts and emerged feeling content.
“Personally, I’m satisfied,” he said Saturday night, moments after North fell 71-56 to Cuthbertson. “We’d rather come here and be challenged and get beat than fall apart against someone we’re capable of beating.”
North (0-2) opened its season Friday afternoon with a five-point loss against Peachtree Ridge, a 6A Georgia school with 3,000 students. Last night, the Cavs tumbled against the defending 2A state runneup – and winning coach Mike Helms was thankful for a rugged match-up.
“This is the reason we come to this tournament,” he said after unbeaten CHS won its third game. “It makes us play tougher. We wanted a challenge and that’s what we got.”
North was paced by senior forward Oshon West, who netted 17 points and totaled 49 in the two games. His only first-half basket gave the Cavs an early 8-5 lead, but NR’s 11 first-quarter turnovers helped Cuthbertson take the lead for good. Eight first-half 3-pointers helped it race to a 37-23 halftime edge.
“I have to play tougher,” West said afterward. “The whole team, we didn’t come out ready. We need more time to run through our plays and set up our defense.”
Mitchell actually defended the Cavs’ careless play. “We knew Cuthbertson applies the type of pressure that makes you turn the ball over,” he said. “And we’ve got some young guys. Seven of the 14 players (on North’s roster) are brand new faces. We’ve got to find ways to run our system and we won’t have 11 turnovers.”
The winners were led by 6-foot-3 guard Shelton Mitchell, a left-handed sniper who topped all scorers with 30 points – with 12 of them coming on 3-balls.
“He was crafty with the ball,” said North freshman Jalen Sanders. “He was smart – knew when to pass, when to shoot and always knew where his teammates were.”
Cuthbertson’s Mitchell is being recruited by every team in the ACC and several from the SEC. Helms, who met briefly with Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik after the game, reports the junior has already received offers from nine Division I programs.
“Any time the head coach comes to see you play instead of the assistants, you know you’re a player,” said North’s Mitchell. “And he is. He’s an aggressive, hard-nosed kid.”
North trailed by as many as 19 points in the second half before rallying within 55-46 when West drained a 3-pointer late in the third quarter. Mitchell scored half of his team’s 12 fourth-quarter points to seal the verdict.
“This was a good weekend,” Mitchell said outside North’s locker room. “Other than making too many mistakes and playing like individuals instead of as a team. That’s what we’ve got to work on.”
Perhaps Sanders said it best when he quipped, “It’s back to the lab.”•NOTES: Senior Malik Ford had 10 rebounds for the Cavs. North will host West Rowan on Friday night.
CUTHBERSTON (71) – Mitchell 30, Afam 11, Hardrick 10, Austin 6, McMillon 5, Cureton 5, Stradford 4.
NORTH ROWAN(56) – West 17, Bowman 9, Sanders 9, B.Nelson 6, Connor 6, Ford 6, D.Nelson 2, Bost 1, Handy, Ellis.
Cuthbertson 14 23 22 12 – 71
North Rowan 10 13 23 1 – 56

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