Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 11, 2013
MT. ULLA — West Rowan coach Mike Gurley watched his team go almost five minutes without scoring to start Tuesday’s game, but fans expecting Gurley to stomp, turn bright red or get a technical were disappointed.
Even with West down 11-0, Gurley didn’t burn a timeout. He’s got a veteran team and he had faith the Falcons would right the ship without drastic measures.
And they did. West wound up rolling to a 76-53 victory against SPC opponent South Rowan.
“We really weren’t all that worried, even at 11-0,” West guard Celexus Long said. “There was still so much game left. We just had to get our heads in the right place.”
Gurley could smile about that awful start because the Falcons (4-2, 2-0 SPC) were pretty sensational for the final 27 minutes. They hit everything.
“All our worst fears were realized in those first few minutes,” Gurley said. “Shawn Spry is scoring and Qwan Rhyne is scoring and the young kid (Christian Holbrook) is getting out and running,” Gurley said. “But I knew we just needed a couple of baskets. We got them (from Daisean Reddick and Long), and then we started to play.”
After a quarter, South still led 15-10, but with Long making two second-quarter 3s, the Falcons took the lead at halftime, and then they blew the Raiders out of the gym with a 28-point third quarter.
West had five players in double figures — Long (17), Seth Martin (17), Devin Parks (11), Najee Tucker (11) and Reddick (10).
“We shared the sugar,” Gurley said. “Everybody was touching it, everybody was taking good shots and everybody was making shots.”
Holbrook and a foul-plagued Spry led South with 15 each. Rhyne had 12.
“We showed the two teams that we are in this game,” South coach Bryan Withers said. “Early on, we showed how good we can be. After that, we showed what we can be in the other direction.”
Any chance South (2-2, 0-2) had to keep things interesting in the second half departed along with Spry, who was whistled for his fourth foul on a hand-check barely a minute into the second half.
He’s a versatile scorer and a key ballhandler, and without him, South unraveled.
South also could’ve used post player Lavon Hill, who was out with a finger injury. Often there were 10 perimeter players on the floor, and West won a lot of matchups.
“We did a good job defensively for some long stretches, and I thought Chris Hassard and Dearius Phillips did a good job of keeping their athletic guys (notably T’Vadis Graham-Wesley) off the glass,” Gurley said.
With 4:17 left in the third quarter, West’s lead was only 35-30, but when Withers looked up two minutes later, it was 45-30 and all but over.
West hit the Raiders with a devastating sequence in that span — starting with a stickback by Parks. Then Parks drew a foul when he boarded his own miss and scored again, and that call triggered a South technical.
Parks hit a free throw. Then Martin hit the two technicals. Then Martin drilled a 3-pointer, and the five-point lead had swelled to 15.
“We didn’t do what we needed to do, and West did what good teams will do to you,” Withers said.
When Reddick, Parks and Martin closed the quarter with 3s, West’s lead was up to 56-35.
“They shot it well,” Withers said. “But we helped them shoot it well by not taking care of our responsibilities.”
The student sections dueled all night, but the Falcons had the last word. When Tucker cruised in for the layup that made it 66-40 with 5:45 left, the West chant was a derisive “It’s too easy!”
“We played well,” Long said. “We stayed in front of our men defensively, and on offense, we moved the ball and connected on our shots.”
Gurley was pleased, but he wasn’t celebrating.
“All we did was hold serve in a home game,” he said. “Now we’ve got three straight on the road.”
West is at Carson Friday.
SOUTH (53) — Spry 15, Holbrook 15, Rhyne 12, Goldston 4, Finger 3, Graham-Wesley 2, Wilder 2, Rary, Childers, Stewart.
WEST (76) — Long 17, Martin 17, Parks 11, Tucker 11, Reddick 10, Wood 5, Weeks 3, Hassard 2, Valle, Joseph, Phillips.
South 15 8 12 18 — 53
West 10 18 28 20 — 76