East boys fall to Central Cabarrus
CONCORD — At first glance, East Rowan doesn’t look like a 4-win team.
The Mustangs play with as much heart, energy and grit as the best — sometimes even more — but just come up short.
It was the same story Monday night against Central Cabarrus.
East pushed the Vikings to the wire but couldn’t get the last buckets to drop, eventually falling 53-50.
“That’s who we are — this team never quits,” Mustang skipper Trey Ledbetter said. “The hustle, grit, tenacity and intensity has never wavered all year long.
“We don’t look like a team that’s only one four games,” he continued. “If someone comes and watches us for the first time, they’re going to think we’re a .500 team just by our effort.”
That hustle and grit was put to the test early on as Central built up a 12-2 lead over the first six minutes of play.
Sam Wyrick then caught fire, scoring eight quick points to trim the deficit to 16-12 at the end of one.
The Vikings led 24-22 at the intermission but Ledmetter called it his teams’ most “efficient half of the year.”
“Our first half was the most efficient first half we’ve played all year,” he said. “We only scored 22 points, but our possessions lasted for minutes at a time.
“We were very consistent in what our game plan was the whole game,” he added. “We wanted to exploit their 1-on-1 defense.”
And the game plan continued to work in the second half with the Mustangs matching the Central point-for-point.
Austin Love banked home a 3-pointer to tie things up at 48-all late in the fourth.
After a Viking score, East pulled the ball out and ran clock, setting up the game-winning shot.
“We were going for the win,” Ledbetter said.
Three shots hit iron and Central sank free throws to ice the game.
“It came down to who made the last play at the end,” he added. “They hit free throws and we didn’t.
“We had three shots in the final 15 seconds with a chance to win it, but the ball just didn’t go in the hoop.”
The Mustangs close the regular season Friday against rival South Rowan.
EAST ROWAN (50) — Means 21, Sa. Wyrick 13, Love 9, Se. Wyrick 4, Bell 3, Wyse, Corpening, Moses.
CENTRAL CABARRUS (53) — Hightower 13, McClure 13, Mullis 11, Wilson 6, Klugh 4, Thompson 4, Johnson, Hartsell, Page, English.
East 12 10 17 11 — 50
C Cabarrus 16 8 16 13 — 53