KANNAPOLIS — With a deep gash and a bloody bruise making his All-American boy face an interesting patchwork of reds and blues, South Rowan guard Eric Goldston looked like the loser in a prizefight.
But his smile gave him away. He was definitely a winner, and his career game allowed South Rowan to win 65-60 in double overtime at A.L. Brown on Thursday in the opener for both rivals.
“I just want to fill whatever role this team needs on a particular night,” Goldston said. “I just had a lot of open shots, and the ball was going in.”
Goldston hit three 3s, and he made the clinching free throws in the second OT.
Spry’s career-best 27 points included eight in the second OT, and his feistiness had a role in the unusual numbers of technical fouls whistled in the game.
“I thought it was just going to be a normal, ugly win,” Spry said. “It turned out that we had to dig really deep.”
The call that went a long way toward wrecking the Wonders came in the first OT, shortly after Brown had taken a 49-47 lead on a stickback by David Tripp.
Spry drove into traffic, and Jaylon Neel blocked his shot. Spry made a frustrated shove at Neel, and Neel responded verbally. The call was a pivotal double technical. Neel missed his two free throws, and then Spry made his two to tie the game.
“We had some technical fouls in situations where the thing to do would’ve been just to walk away,” A.L. Brown coach Shelwyn Klutz said. “ Our kids really fought hard all night, but we just weren’t mentally strong enough at times.”
South has four starters back, four more than A.L. Brown has. It wasn’t supposed to be close, but SR struggled to a 6-3 lead after a brutal first quarter.
With T’Vadis Graham-Wesley earning frequent-flyer miles for repeated blocked shots, South went up 20-7, but then Joekeem Neal, Jaylon’s cousin, started providing a spark for the Wonders, and South led only 22-19 at the break.
“Bad start, but then we showed poise,” Klutz said.
It stayed tight until personal fouls started crippling the Wonders, and Spry kept getting to the foul line.
“That game was horrible at times and we looked intimidated at times,” South coach Bryan Withers said. “But there were positives. We’ll keep practicing, and we’ll come around.”
SOUTH ROWAN (65) — Spry 27, Goldston 14, Rhyne 9, Graham-Wesley 8, Hill 3, Wilder 2, Holbrook 2, Rary, Childers, Stewart.
A.L. BROWN (60) — Ja. Neel 15, Jo. Neel 14, Tripp 14, Joyner 6, Grier 5, Endicott 2, Dennard 2, Watson 2.
S. Rowan 6 16 11 14 4 14 — 65
A.L. Brown 3 16 10 18 4 9 — 60