MOUNT GILEAD — Even without a key component, the North Rowan boys are still a well-oiled machine as the rest of the Yadkin Valley Conference can attest to.
West Montgomery became the latest Yadkin Valley Conference team to kick the tires on the Cavaliers, who won 90-50 on the road without starting center Malik Ford for the third-straight game. Despite that, North hammered the Warriors by almost the exact score of the last time they met, a 90-49 triumph.
“The guys came out with a lot of intensity,” North coach Andrew Mitchell said. “I was pleased with the focus the guys had from the bus ride all the way to warmups. I like the focus and the mentality right now.”
Dalton Nelson started in place of Ford, as he did in the last two games. Mitchell says Ford, out with a foot injury, can come back next week for the conference tournament.
It was hard to spot any detriment. The Cavs eclipsed 90 points for the sixth time this year and freshman guard Jalen Sanders had his best game yet with 19 points. Senior stud Oshon West also offered 19 as North reached 20 wins for the fourth-straight year.
“It’s amazing,” Sanders said of his first year with North. “I like fast-paced teams and we play that pace that I like to play.”
Friday North (20-3, 15-0) can finish the regular season unbeaten in conference play with a win at South Davidson. That would be a first in school history.
“I hope we can win out and go to the states,” Sanders said.
Tuesday they completed the season sweep of the Warriors by wasting little time. The Cavs scored the game’s first 10 points after a Michael Connor jumper capped the early run.
West Montgomery’s Brad Absher hit a jumper to pull WM within 14-8, but the Warriors would get no closer. West canned a trey and Sanders sunk an easy layup to calm the nerves.
“I try to attack the goal and get easy points for us,” Sanders said. “You have to stay focused and not let your team get out of character.”
T.J. Bates hit a reverse layup off a steal from Connor to make it 21-8. Sanders added two free throws and a basket on the next two trips in an 11-0 run and North led 29-14 after one quarter. The lead ballooned to 51-22 at halftime and outside of some jawing on the way to the locker room, excitement was kept to a minimum.
“North Rowan is a great team,” West coach Kevin King said. “They have players they sub in without losing much. We got outplayed in every facet of the game.”
West (9-11, 8-7) played its best in the fourth quarter with 22 points, same as North’s fourth.
Cody McKenzie had 12 points to lead the Warriors with Absher pitching in 11.
Connor added smooth drives to the bucket in the third quarter West had a ferocious slam late in the period to make it 68-28.
North forced 25 turnovers for the game. Nelson scored four points and added sound defense at the 5.
“We’re putting him out there to start grooming him,” Mitchell said. “He’s doing a great job on defense by rebounding and blocking shots.”
Connor finished in double figures with 14 points.
NORTH ROWAN (90) — West 19, Sanders 19, Connor 14, Bates 8, Tate 6, Walker 5, B. Nelson 5, D. Nelson 4, Bowman 4, Ellis 4, Billingsley 2, Archie.
WEST MONTGOMERY (50) — McKenzie 12, Absher 11, Drake 7, Morse 6, Sims 6, Cole 5, Burnett 2, Little 1, Marshall.
N. Rowan 29 22 17 22 — 90
W. Mont. 14 8 6 22 — 50
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