Boys basketball: Slow-starting North Rowan cruises past East Davidson
SPENCER — Late-arriving fans rubbed their eyes and stared at the North Rowan scoreboard in shock.
The home team trailed East Davidson — that’s 2-19 East Davidson — 9-2 after three minutes. North Rowan boys coach Andrew Mitchell had seen enough of his starters by then to bench them.
“We were giving our fans a stomach ache,” Mitchell said.
The starting five sat nine minutes, but while they watched, North Rowan’s reserves started a comeback. The Cavaliers led only 16-14 after a quarter, but they were up 12 at halftime and went on to an easy 72-44 victory that kept them tied for first in the CCC with Lexington.
“Coach warned us before the game we weren’t focused, and we found out he was right,” North Rowan standout Jalen Sanders said.
Buckets by reserves Alonzo Sirleaf and Wesley Jefferies started the Cavaliers’ comeback, and then Henderson Lentz enjoyed a personal 7-0 run to put North Rowan (14-5, 7-1) ahead 13-12.
“What happened at the start wasn’t unexpected,” Mitchell said. “When you beat someone really good the first time you play them, you tend to think it’s going to be easy the second time.
“We have to learn we can’t just turn it on and off, but I wasn’t surprised that our second unit played well. They go hard, and they challenge our starters every day in practice.”
Sanders and the starters returned with three minutes left in the second quarter. He quickly made two 3-pointers, and then Lentz hit a long one. The Cavaliers took a 34-22 lead to halftime.
Sanders led the Cavaliers with 13 points. Josh Handy scored 10, all in the third quarter. Lentz and Joe Harrison had 10 each off the bench. It was a career game for Harrison, who had fans turning cartwheels when he drilled a fourth-quarter 3-pointer.
Football star Jareke Chambers scored six dazzling points in the fourth quarter.
Outmanned but steadily improving East Davidson (2-19, 0-8) fought hard from start to finish. McKagan Barrett led the Golden Eagles with 14 points. Damian Wiliams had 10. Evan Jarrett hit three 3-pointers.
“We worked out tails off, played really patient and did a good job of keeping them out of the paint in the first half,” East Davidson coach Matt Jacobs said. “But in the second half, we got in some foul trouble, had to play zone, and they did a lot better job of getting the ball inside.”
Getting the ball inside was the second-half focus for the Cavaliers, according to both Mitchell and Sanders, and the Cavaliers got a lot of easy shots.’
Sanders, a junior, finished the game with 1,029 points in his career. The North Rowan record for career scoring has been held by James Henderson, a terrific shooter who played long before the 3-point shot, since 1972. Henderson’s 1,654 points has been the standard at North Rowan a long time, but Sanders may challenge the mark next season.
East Davidson (44): Barrett 14, Williams 10, Jarrett 9, Shadrick 5, McLaughlin 3, Simpler 3.
North Rowan (72: Sanders 13, Harrison 10, Lentz 10, Handy 10, Scott 6, Chambers 6, Hillie 4, Alexander 3, Sirleaf 3, Debose 3, Jefferies 2, Archie 2, Stoner, Shields.
East Davidson 14 8 13 9 — 44
North Rowan 16 18 21 17 — 72