GRANITE QUARRY — With a renewed emphasis on defense, the East Rowan Mustangs snapped a four game losing streak last night by holding off North Stanly 64-56.
The victory for East (2-5) came just two days after probably their low point of the season when they turned the ball over 30 times in a lopsided 60-27 loss at Cox Mill. They had a sluggish start against the visiting Comets (2-6) as well but cranked it up several notches in the middle two quarters behind their swarming defense and clutch shooting by Donte Means and Conor Honeycutt.
“Our goal tonight was good defense” East Coach Trey Ledbetter stated. “and for about 12 minutes tonight we played really good defense. But at the end we were nowhere to be found on the floor.”
Ledbetter was referring to his team giving back almost all of a 17 point lead in the final quarter. Free throw accuracy down the stretch by Means and Tyler L’Hommedieu kept the Comets was getting any closer than eight.
“I was happy that we won but we have still got to keep our intensity up and play the whole 32 minutes,” noted senior forward Josh Gobble. “We can’t just turn the ball over and give them easy baskets at the end of the game.”
Gobble was one of the defensive stars for the Mustangs with 14 rebounds and a number of key steals on the inside. The team used their pressing defense to produce 14 steals and a number of deflections that led to easy baskets.
Both teams suffered through a sluggish start but North Stanly managed to claim a 12-9 lead after one period thanks to eight points from their 6-4 forward T.J. Smith. East responded with a 20 point second quarter on the long range shooting of Means. His three pointer gave East the lead for good at 21-20 then his buzzer beater three expanded the margin to 29-20 at the half.
East widened the margin in the third as Honeycutt notched seven points and Sam Wyrick scored five including a key three pointer. Means and L’Hommedieu added fast break buckets, Gobble scored two jumpers and Seth Wyrick hit a three to push the Mustang margin to 55-38 with five minutes left to play.
Means nailed 3 of 4 free throws at the end to protect the shrinking lead and give him 17 points for the night.
N. STANLY (56) — Smith 20, Caulder 11, Burris 9, Greene 9, Blalock 6, Sylvester 1, Gibson, Parnell, Davis, Reid.
E. ROWAN (64) — Means 17, Honeycutt 10, Sam Wyrick 9, Gobble 7, Edwards 7, Seth Wyrick 6, L’Hommedieu 6, Corpening 2, Hill.
N. Stanly 12 9 13 22 — 56
E. Rowan 9 20 20 15 — 64