Boys basketball: Falcons come away with win
MOUNT ULLA — West Rowan was coming off an 11-day layoff, had serious foul trouble and was not shooting the ball well. But the Falcons still found a way to win Tuesday at home.
After three quarters of back-and-forth basketball, the Falcons held off a tenacious Northwest Cabarrus team down the stretch for a 52-47 South Piedmont Conference victory. West Rowan placed four players in double figures and all of them contributed when it counted in the fourth period. Senior Greg Joseph led the way with 14 including two key baskets midway in the fourth that gave West Rowan a six-point working margin. Freshman center Caleb Mauldin had 12 points and eight rebounds while guards Celexus Long and Kortez Weeks had 10 points each.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well but we grinded,” Falcons coach Mike Gurley said. “That is kind of the mantra with these guys. We were trying to make the right decisions down the stretch, and I think we did for the most part.”
After 15 lead changes and one tie against the Trojans, the Falcons (10-6, 6-3 SPC) created some space to start the final quarter. Mauldin had two baskets and a block to put the margin at 39-36. Then Long, despite carrying four fouls, hit a clutch jumper for a 41-36 margin with about five minutes left.
“I just had to keep playing the way I know I can play” said Long of his foul troubles. “I had to play hard on defense and keep my intensity up even though I knew what was at stake.”
Forward Greg Joseph then stepped up despite four fouls of his own and hit two jumpers to keep the margin at four. Weeks followed with probably the most critical play of the game with 3:15 left when he stole the ball and drove the length of the floor for a layup and a 47-41 lead.
“We were trying to run time off the clock but I had a shot and was able to make it,” said the junior guard. “I love it when we have tight games like that because it makes us play harder and play good defense.”
Mauldin essentially secured the game with 27 seconds left when he sank a pair of foul shots for a 52-46 margin.
Northwest Cabarrus (1-12, 0-9 SPC) led by three early in the second half thanks to strong inside play by 6-4 power forward Anthony Caldwell (10 points, 10 rebounds) and the accurate outside shooting of Dalton Hathcock (11 points) and Brian Leach (nine points). Gurley knew the Trojans were much better than their record indicated.
“The game pretty much played out exactly the way I knew it was going to,” Gurley said. “They are a good team and are in every game they play. Coach Eric Jackson has those kids playing hard and believing in themselves.”
West Rowan returns home Friday for a key SPC game against county rival South Rowan.
NW Cabarrus (47): Hathcock 11, Caldwell 10, Leach 9, Baker 5, Mosley 4, Hart 4, Morgan 2, Clark 2, England,
West Rowan (52): Joseph 14, Mauldin 12, Long 10, Weeks 10, Rankin 4, Morris, Warren, Delgado, Wilson.
NW Cabarrus 14 11 9 13 — 47
West Rowan 15 9 13 15 — 52