SALISBURY — When North Rowan presses, it seems like there are six Cavaliers on the floor.
On Saturday, there literally were six Cavs on the floor for a little while in the third quarter after Michael Connor and Jalen Sanders reported for duty from the scorer’s table and only one Cavalier exited.
Give the officials credit. They realized something was amiss before the Hornets were forced to figure out a 3-3 zone, and they awarded Salisbury (4-13) two technical free throws.
That was the lone light moment in North’s serious 76-50 victory over its rival. North got fierce inside-outside play from Oshon West, who finished with 25 points, and from Michael Bowman, who had 19. Both did all of their damage in the first three quarters.
“I’m glad we were able to play this game because we saw some of the fruits of our labors,” North coach Andrew Mitchell said. “Guys have been working hard and focusing in practice, and we weren’t going to take anything for granted with Salisbury. Salisbury has some talent.”
North (14-3) has more talent and beat the Hornets for the third time, including a romp in the Sam Moir Christmas Classic.
North’s shooting, theoretically the team’s weakest area, was incredible early.
West, T.J. Bates and Bowman drilled early 3s against Salisbury’s zone, as North stormed to an 11-4 lead.
“They were making perimeter shots,” Salisbury coach Jason Causby said. “But they cooled off when we stuck with our defense, and I thought that gave us a chance.”
Buster Hillie, who scored 20 points, was making deep 3s for Salisbury and Tyler Petty did some fine work inside. Even with West on fire, they kept Salisbury in the game, and when the Hornets closed the first quarter with a Keion Adams bucket for a 9-0 run, they trailed only 21-18.
“We did make a lot of 3s early but you can go cold as fast as you get hot, and we have to remember that,” Mitchell said. “We had guys sitting down on the block, wide open, but we were still shooting 3s.”
West had 17 points at halftime and the Hornets suffered a big blow when Tyler Petty got his third foul battling for a rebound with 45 seconds left in the half, but the Hornets still had to feel good about things. North had hit seven 3s, but the Hornets were down just 38-30.
“We showed some resolve when North started hot and we hung in there,” Causby said. “If we make some easy opportunities, we’re probably up eight instead of down eight.”
The Cavs were reminded at halftime that they have a 6-foot-7 guy (Malik Ford) who can play, and they came out in the second half looking inside instead of launching.
Once Ford started touching the ball on offense, he got energized on defense. Twice, he rejected shots to create transition layups, and North surged.
“We got a lot more rebounds and stickbacks in the second half,” Bowman said. “We moved the ball better and we got easier shots.”
Salisbury made only five field goals after halftime, and the Cavs’ lead steadily grew.
“I called timeout with 41/2 minutes left so we could try to make one last run,” Causby said. “But we stopped playing defense and stopping running our offense, and North is an excellent team. If you don’t play 32 minutes, they’ll bury you.”
SALISBURY(50) — Hillie 20, J. Petty 9, T. Petty 8, Adams 4, Usry 3, Alexander 3, Fazia 2, Troutman 1, Burges, Brown
NORTH ROWAN (76) — West 25, Bowman 19, Bates 9, Sanders 6, Connor 5, Ford 4, Ellis 4, B. Nelson 2, D. Nelson 1, Walker 1, Archie, Billingsley, Handy.
Salisbury 18 12 11 9 — 50
North Rowan 21 17 17 21 — 76
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