MISENHEIMER — On the heels of an intense first place victory against Albemarle the night before, it was reasonable to expect North Rowan might come out a little flat against a winless Gray Stone team.
A little halftime “threat” did the trick for the Cavs however as they blew past the Knights in the third period 26-3 and cruised to an easy 72-31 Yadkin Valley Conference win Friday. The win kept North firmly on top in the YVC at 12-0, 17-3 while Gray Stone fell to 0-12, 0-18.
With three players, including 6-7 center Malik Ford not dressed for the game, North was slow out the gate with missed shots in close and a number of turnovers. They still were able to control matters thanks to their defense, leading 18-5 after one period and 30-11 at the half.
But it was not a pretty half that included an uncharacteristic three missed dunks for the Cavs. Coach Andrew Mitchell challenged his team at intermission to pick up the intensity and threatened to hold a 9:30 a.m. practice session Saturday if they missed another dunk.
North responded in the third period with their speed and intense defense to go on a 24-1 run and turn a lopsided game into a rout.
“We kind of expected this,” Mitchell said of the slow start. “We just have heavy legs right now. It’s all mental.”
Senior forward Oshon West, along with guards Tim Bates and Shareef Walker led the Cavalier surge with a number of key steals in the decisive third period that led to easy transition baskets.
West was the only Cavalier to have the nerve to attempt a dunk in the second half, slamming one safely home with 1:30 left in the third after a steal to make the score 51-12. No Saturday practice will be necessary.
“We had played an intense game last night,” West said. “So it took us a while to get our legs warmed up and play hard. But overall it was a good win.”
North did use all 11 players in the game, normally substituting five at a time throughout. The result was a balanced effort in which 10 players scored and all played some qualty minutes.
“Fortunately we had enough bodies we could throw out there and finally get some rhythm going, “ Mitchell noted.
Three Cavs were in double figures led by Walker with 13, Bates with 12 and West with 11. Michael Bowman had a solid night with 9 points including a key three pointer from the corner in the midst of the big third period run.
North also dominated the boards led by 6-5 junior Dalton Nelson who recorded 10 to go with his five points.
For much of the first three quarters, Gray Stone had problems getting their shots off against a pressing and trapping Cavalier defense. They finally did get untracked in the final quarter outscoring North 17-16 thanks to sharpshooting guard Alex Wang. The 5-9 sophomore who lives in Rockwell, rained in four three pointers in the game, three in the final period, to lead the Knights with 12. Guard Reid Huckabee added nine for the home team.
“Gray Stone is a lot better than when we played them the first time, “Mitchell said referring to an 84-23 rout back in December. “They moved the ball well on offense.”
The Cavaliers can rest up for a Tuesday home game with YVC foe Chatham Central. Big man Ford who had a sore ankle, indicated he would be ready to go next week.
NORTH ROWAN (72) — Walker 13, Bates 12, West 11, Bowman 9, Connor 7, Handy 6, D. Nelson 5, B. Nelson 4, Archie 3, Ellis 2., Tate
GRAY STONE (31) — Wang 12, Huckabee 9, Singletary 4, Mnasfield 2, Lattimer 2, Jennings 2, Lantz, Shell.
N. Rowan 18 12 26 16 — 72
G. Stone 5 6 3 17 — 31