Sam Moir Christmas Classic: Action resumes Monday

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 29, 2014

SALISBURY — Saturday qualified as the weirdest, wildest day in Sam Moir Classic history, and if you’re a fan of underdogs you got exactly what you wanted for Christmas in the boys bracket.

Seeds 5. 6, 7 and 8 were winners at Catawba’s Goodman Gym and advanced to Monday semifinals in an unprecedented onslaught of December Delirium.

With Greg Joseph getting a career-high 18 points and nine rebounds, No. 5 seed West Rowan avenged a regular-season loss with a 53-47 win  against No. 4 Carson.

No. 6 Davie County, with basically the same bunch of guys who went 4-21 a year ago, got 20 points from Jordan McDaniel and beat No.3 Mooresville 65-55.

No. 7 East Rowan got a career-best 18 points from Bravon Goodlett, a huge 3-pointer from Logan Shuping, and a game-winning drive by Tay Davis and beat No. 2 North Rowan 61-57. All three of those Mustangs were jayvees a year ago.

No. 8 South Rowan got 21 points from Qwan Rhyne and 19 from Lavon Hill and beat No. 1 Salisbury 62-59.

What it all added up to is that the four teams playing in Monday’s semifinals have a combined record of 17-23, while the four teams playing in the early consolation games have a combined record of 24-16. Seriously.

So we’ll  have unusually high-powered players and teams in Monday’s morning and early-afternoon games, guys like North Rowan’s Jalen Sanders and Salisbury’s Deshawn Troutman, and we’ll have who-knows-what-will-happen games in the evening and night action.

Consolations: North Rowan (6-3) plays Mooresville (5-4) at 10:30 a.m. Salisbury (8-3) plays Carson (5-6) at 1:30 p.m.

All Four of Saturday’s survivors believe they can win this thing — and with good reason. One of them will.

South Rowan has won just once in 43 Christmas tournaments, and that was 19 years ago, so there are a lot of people pulling for the Raiders (3-7) to make some history. South Rowan’s low seed and unimpressive record are due in part to Rhyne missing the first six games with a football injury. The Raiders have been a different team since he returned, and Hill has performed like a player of the year all season.

SR coach Bryan Withers was a standout for the Salisbury team that won the Moir title in 1987.

It’s also hard not to cheer for Davie and coach Mike Absher. This is not the awesome Davie team fans saw just a few years ago with Nate Jones, Shannon Dillard and the Martin twins flying around. This is a bunch with a lot more grit than height or speed. Davie’s probably not going to have a chance most  nights in its 4A league, but  a Moir title would make the War Eagles’ season.

West Rowan was so good for so long, it’s hard not to think of the the guys in light blue as bullies, but even with Mike Gurley coaching, West Rowan has  been just a little above average (64-57) in the last five seasons.

In the Moir tournament, the Falcons have been below average — 4-8 in the previous five tournaments.

So West Rowan, which starts two freshmen, also has a lot of incentive  The Falcons haven’t won the event since 2005 and haven’t reached a final since 2008. This is a chance to show that the program is back,  and that’s it’s going to be back for a while.

Finally, there’s East Rowan. The Mustangs made the biggest statement of all Saturday by winning a heated, unbelievable game against a  super-successful program that had played in the previous four championship games.

East Rowan has only won this tournament twice, and one of those titles came back  in 1975. The Mustangs haven’t been a factor since they won it in 2006 with a dramatic, double-overtime final against Salisbury in one of the great games in Moir history.

Before Saturday, the Mustangs had been 3-12 in the tournament since celebrating in 2006

East Rowan coach Trey Ledbetter came into the tournament with a career record of 27-73 in his 100 games at the helm, so Saturday’s draining win was gratifying for him as well as long-suffering East Rowan supporters.

Everyone from Salisbury coach Jason Causby to Concord coach George Walker has praised the Mustangs’ elevated level of athleticism this season, and they are at least as talented as  anyone left in the field.

East Rowan (4-6) plays Davie (4-5) at 4:30 p.m.. West Rowan (6-5) plays South Rowan (3-7) at 7:30 p.m.



Compared to the guys, the girls had a quiet Saturday.

With Demeria Robinson scoring 18 points, North Rowan cruised 58-47 as a No. 6 seed against No. 3 seed South Rowan, but that wasn’t a surprise. North Rowan’s record was only 3-3 coming in, but the Cavaliers  had already won by 30 at South Rowan.

In the other three games, seeds 1,2 and 4 took care of business.

No. 1 East Rowan won 53-38 against No. 8 Salisbury, with Shenell Pharr posting a career-best 21 points.

No. 2 Davie was a routine 62-41 winner against No. 7 West Rowan, with Madison Zaferatos scoring 21. Davie has won eight in a row.

No. 4 Mooresville held off Carson 59-53 with seniors Amber Sherrill and Ashley Cullen scoring 18 apiece.

East Rowan is trying to win the tournament for the first time since 2001, while North Rowan is the defending champ. Davie’s girls haven’t won since 2000. Mooresville is debuting in the tournament.

It’ll be North Rowan’s speed against Davie’s size in one semifinal. The Pharr twins give East Rowan a quickness advantage against Mooresville, but the Blue Devils have good overall size and are better shooters than the Mustangs. They knocked down eight 3s against Carson.

Monday’s consolation games are South Rowan (6-4) vs. West Rowan (4-7) at 9 a.m. and Carson (5-6) vs. Salisbury (2-9) at noon.

Monday’s semifinals are North Rowan (4-3) vs. Davie (8-2)  at 3 p.m.  and East Rowan (9-1) vs. Mooresville (6-3) at 6 p.m.