• 61°

GREENSBORO — The bell has tolled for North Rowan and the high-flying circus it calls a boys basketball team.
The Cavaliers may have gone down in Friday night’s dehydrating, double-overtime loss in the 1A Western Regional semifinals, a head-spinning loss left frozen by disappointment. But let the record show they went down standing up.
“I’m not making any excuses,” coach Andrew Mitchell said after North may have been sucker-punched by fate at UNC Greensboro’s Fleming Gym. “I watched my kids compete on the floor all night. I just wish — I wish — it could have been fair.”
Frustration ruled North’s post-game meeting with the media, and perhaps much of it was justified. A most glaring stat showed defending state champion Winston-Salem Prep converted 28 of 42 free throws, while the Cavs attempted only 29, sinking 13.
“We did one thing to hurt ourselves — and that’s miss free throws,” Mitchell said dejectedly.

To be honest, it was an unexpected reaction to a game that quickly became a winter classic. These were two comets lighting up the night, two heavyweights going eyeball-to-eyeball for 40 minutes, each looking to throw a knockout punch. Neither succeeded, but Prep secured a split decision when North turned the ball over for the 25th and final time with 15 seconds to play.
“We knew they were the second-best team in North Carolina — and very easily could be the best,” winning coach Andre Gould exhaled afterward. “We just figured out how to win the ballgame. They weren’t going to give us anything.”
The game had more twists and turns than a New York City cab ride. Tied after one quarter, North two ahead at the half and tied again after three periods.
“You don’t win in two seconds,” senior Oshon West said in a subdued tone after netting 16 points in 22 fould-plagued minutes. “But we still should have won the game.”

North had its chances. Junior Michael Bowman turned a third-quarter steal into a jailbreak layup, giving the Cavs a four-point lead in the third quarter. And when teammate Michael Connor stuck a 3-pointer from the left corner late in the first OT, North sat on a 62-57 cushion. A week after stunning Monroe in the sectional final, the Cavs had to feel like they were about to bottle some more magic.
“We did,” do-everything guard T.J. Bates said. “We just didn’t execute when we were supposed to. That’s how we lost the game.
So is this: from the fourth quarter to the finish line, they made just seven of 19 free throw attempts. And while North may have drowned itself, Prep helped fill the pool.
“This was a good game,” said WSP senior guard RaeKwon Harney, the game’s leading scorer with 17 points. “There were times when we worried about rushing it when we had the game in our hands.
For much of the first half, Prep looked as off-balance as a high-wire performer with vertigo. The Pheonix missed more shots than it made in the first quarter and won the game despite connecting on only 35 percent of its field goal attempts.
“I think we gave it away a couple of times,” Gould told the post-game pen-wielders. “But at the end of the day they found a way to win. They dug deep.”

Perhaps that’s what made this loss so infuriating for North. They shot the ball better, coralled more rebounds and made more steals. But Prep, now 30-1, walk away the winner.
So while the Cavaliers arrived with swords held high, they left the same way. Even if they were nursing a dream that had just been administered last rites.
“I give my team total praise,” Mitchell concluded. “These kids, they were rolled and fouled and beat on all night long — and they don’t get to stay on the floor.”

Comments

Comments closed.

Education

Rowan Wild’s animal camp makes a comeback at Dan Nicholas Park

Coronavirus

Health officials say financial incentives helped vaccination rates; lottery drawing today

Granite Quarry

Granite Quarry adopts budget that keeps tax rate flat

Business

Airport Advisory committee endorses plans for expansion at Mid-Carolina Regional

China Grove

China Grove will celebrate 40th Farmers Day with week full of festivities

Sports

Pistons win in NBA draft lottery; Hornets will get 11th pick

Crime

Officers in Locust arrest drivers who tried to flee; one was on motorcycle reported stolen from Rowan

News

Panel OKs NC Senate budget bill; Dems pan policy provisions

News

Letter: Journalist won’t join UNC faculty without tenure

Crime

Chase from Mooresville ends with crash at Rowan Mill Road; two charged

Kannapolis

Dearmons gift two public art sculptures to city of Kannapolis

Crime

Blotter: Woman’s camper stolen from side of I-85

Local

Local scouts sweep NC American Legion awards

Business

As demand lessens slightly, local homebuilders work through challenges to deliver dwellings

Local

Commissioners name Newberry Hall House county’s newest historic landmark

News

Senate budget uses NC revenue boon on more tax cuts, capital

College

Livingstone College alumna Quanera Hayes makes U.S. Olympic Team after first-place finish in 400-meter race

Crime

Blotter: June 21

Ask Us

Ask Us: What is status of ‘speed table’ on Charles Street in Spencer?

Local

East Rowan High graduate killed in motorcycle crash

Local

Political Notebook: Gov. Cooper vetoes Ford-backed bill allowing firearms at churches that are also schools

Crime

Blotter: June 20

News

Body of fourth tuber, age 7, found in North Carolina river

Nation/World

8 kids in youth van among the 13 lives lost to Claudette