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Boys basketball: With a chance to secure top seed, Cavaliers lose at home

By Mike London

mike.london@salisburypost.com

 

SPENCER — North Rowan’s four-game winning streak screeched to a halt on Monday, and the Cavaliers also said goodbye to the No. 1 seed in the Sam Moir Christmas Classic.

Plagued by turnovers, poor shot selection and dismal free-throw shooting, the Cavaliers lost, 61-52, to visiting 1A power Winston-Salem Prep, and relinquished the top seed in the upcoming holiday tournament to rival Salisbury (8-2).

Winston-Salem Prep is talented and had a size advantage, but it’s not like the Phoenix (7-2) played a stellar game. North Rowan’s worst enemy was North Rowan, and coach Andrew Mitchell said as much.

“We didn’t run our offense and we didn’t run our defense,” Mitchell said. “I felt like I was at the YMCA, just watching guys run up and down the court. I knew we were in trouble right from the start. I called out a defense and two guys were in one defense and three were in another. It was pretty amazing.”

Jalen Sanders scored 23 to lead North Rowan, which played without injured Josh Handy. Handy averages 18 points per game, and the Cavaliers struggled to replace the missing firepower.

Sanders, who averages 19.1 points per game, tried. He scored 10 points in the first quarter, driving hard to the rim, and pushed the Cavaliers to a 16-11 lead.

A 3-pointer by Sanders gave the Cavaliers (6-2) a 26-24 halftime edge.

But Winston-Salem Prep took control in the third quarter by attacking more and settling for long jumpers less. The Phoenix also hit the glass harder. By the end of the third quarter, the visitors led, 46-38.

“We were just jacking it up and letting them get every rebound,” Mitchell said. “Winston-Salem Prep has a really good team, but we made things easy for them when we got away from the team way of doing things and went individual.”

North Rowan was able to make things interesting late because sophomore Henderson Lentz hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. With the Cavaliers down 50-40 with six minutes left, Lentz swished back-to-back 3-pointers to get the large crowd back into it.

“I’ve been in a slump,” Lentz said. “It was good to make some.”

Lentz made another 3-pointer with 1:57 left to cut the Cavaliers’ deficit to 55-51, and Sanders made a free throw to chop the deficit to three points.

With 1:03 left, WSP’s 6-foot-7 Zaire Williams had a big block on Sanders on a drive that could’ve cut the visitors’ lead to two.

KwaTre Hollingsworth made clutch free throws for the Phoenix and scored all of his 12 points after halftime.

North Rowan hurt its cause with 7-for-18 free-throw shooting, but the  hasty shots hurt even more.

“It really was a game we should’ve won, but we got away from team play in the second half,” Lentz said.

As the No. 2 seed,  North Rowan will play  No. 7 East Rowan in the first round of the Christmas tournament.

“I think this game tonight was exactly what we needed,” Mitchell said. “It let us know we’ve got to execute if we’re going to beat good teams.”

 

WINSTON-SALEM PREP (61): Hollingsworth 12, Carrington 8, Williams 8, Watson 7, Edwards 7, Harrison 6, Williamson 6, Goodloe 4, Neal 2, Tate 1.

NORTH ROWAN (52): Sanders 23, Lentz 12, Scott 6, Archie 5, Hillie 2, Shields  2, Jefferies 2.

W.S. Prep           11   13  22  15   — 61

North Rowan    16   10    12   14 — 52

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