Boys basketball: North survives Crossroads’ rally

Published 1:28 am Sunday, December 21, 2014

SPENCER — A funny thing happened to North Rowan on the way to a basketball rout Saturday. Somebody forgot to tell the other team.

The Cavaliers led by as many as 26 in the late third quarter but had to hold off a furious rally by Charlotte Crossroads Charter to hang on to an 81-73 non-league win. A combination of hot shooting down the stretch by the visiting Titans and poor free-throw shooting by North Rowan made the outcome interesting, if not a bit scary.

“It was crazy,” said Cavalier guard Jalen Saunders, who led the win with 25 points. “They started hitting threes and we kind of self-destructed, but we got the win.”

North Rowan (6-1) used a tenacious defense and a high octane fast break to expand a nine-point halftime lead to 67-41 in the final minute of the third period. Sophomore Joseph Scott led the second half assault on the break en route to a 24-point scoring night. It was his second big scoring game in a row.

“My team needs to me step up and make the points,” Scott said. ” We need to work on our defense, but when we are running the ball up the court like that and playing together as a team, that is what we really need.”

The high point for the Cavaliers was provided by sophomore Joe Harrison, who came off the bench to score a lay-up then a big 3-pointer to give his team its biggest lead in the third period.

Early in the fourth quarter with the margin still 20, North Rowan coach Andrew Mitchell brought in his second team to give it quality minutes. Crossroads Charter (5-8) responded with long bombs by Keonin Nichols and Jordan Leaphart and a couple of forced turnovers to trim the lead to 74-60 with 3 minutes, 30 seconds left.

North Rowan brought back its starters to stabilize the situation but adventures at the foul line allowed Crossroads Charter to get as close as 78-71 with 1:20 left. North Rowan ended up hitting just 16-of-39 from the line to give the Titans hope.

The Cavaliers were able to ice it, however, with a great keep-away possession in the final minute capped by a Scott layup.

“I didn’t necessarily get nervous, ” Mitchell said. ” I didn’t think they could make a big enough run that they could come all the way back against our first team. But 16-of-39 at the foul line. That is just the result of an unfocused mind.”

North Rowan played the game without center Josh Handy, who is out with an injured foot until at least the Sam Moir Christmas Classic. Alexis Archie filled the void nicely with 12 points and 10 rebounds while Wesley Jeffries had a solid inside game as well.

The Titans, who racked up 29 points in the final quarter, were led by the senior guard Nichols with 27 and CJ Baxter with 11.

North Rowan has a game set for Monday at home against familiar nemesis Winston Salem Prep at 7:30 p.m. A win clinches the top seed in the holiday tournament at Catawba College.



Crossroads Charter (73): Nichols 27, Baxter 11, English 9, Jones 8, Leaphart 7, Jackson 7, Steele 2, Johnson 2, Allen, Deirish.

North Rowan (81): Sanders 25, Scott 24, Archie 12, Jeffries 6, Harrison 5, Lentz 4, Stoner 3, Hillie 2, Shields, Sirleaf, Debose, Alexander.

Crossroads Charter 11 20 13 29 — 73

North Rowan 13 27 27 14 — 81