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Prep Basketball: West boys blow out Carson

Mike London

MOUNT ULLA — Well, West Rowan’s seven-game losing streak is over.
The Falcons, who lost their final six a year ago, and then dropped this season’s opener to Davie, demolished Carson, 76-59, on Tuesday.

It wasn’t even as close as it sounds. West (1-1, 1-0 SPC) led by 29 in the middle of the third quarter in the South Piedmont Conference contest and cruised from there against the Cougars (3-1, 3-1 SPC), who won on the road at defending state champ Robinson last week.

“I’m not gonna lie — I didn’t see that coming,” West guard Paris Hillie said. “We knew we had some talent, but there’s no way we could’ve expected to mesh as well as we did tonight. We’ve had just one practice with everybody, with all the football players, together. But we played hard and no one played selfish.”
What’s changed for the Falcons, who were 7-18 a year ago?

Speed, quickness, athleticism, depth, experience. All those things.

“We finished last season with that deathtrap schedule — Robinson, Concord, Cox Mill, Hickory Ridge, and then Robinson again in the SPC tournament,” said West coach Mike Gurley, who is in his 20th season in Mount Ulla. “And we just weren’t very athletic last year. We had to try to keep games in the 50s.”

This year the Falcons will try to take them into the 80s with serious athletes and a long bench.

As far as personnel, the key additions are guards Darius Kure, who moved to the West area from New Jersey, phenomenal football receiver Kortez Weeks, who didn’t play basketball at all last season, and Hillie, whom the Falcons lost to academics last season before the SPC grind really got started.

Back also are inside scorer Caleb Mauldin and ungodly rebounder Austin Love, so the potential is there for a potent team.

“On paper, yes, it all looked good,” Gurley said. “But I had no idea how it would go tonight. Carson is talented and Carson is good. Those guys just won at Robinson, and that tells you how good they are.”

Muscular guard Martavio Rankin got West off to a solid start with his passing, but it was an even game, with Carson leading, 11-10, after five minutes.

But then Weeks rose high on the left wing and drilled back-to-back 3-pointers. Then Kure (pronounced Kur-ay) nailed a long one of his own. Tyrese Lawrence got on the glass for two points, and then Kure tacked on two free throws. When Weeks buried another one from long range, the Cougars were reeling, and West led 26-11.

And the run still wasn’t over. After buckets by Hillie and Jovon Quarles, two recently added football stars, it was 30-11, and Carson, which entered the gym confident, was flat on its back on the canvas.

“West played really hard and really well and shot the ball extremely well,” Carson coach Brian Perry. “All the credit in the world to them. But I was disappointed in my guys. At some point in the ballgame, we should’ve been able to make a run at them. But we never did.”

It was hard to mount any sort of comeback with Love, a muscular pitcher who signed with UNC’s baseball program, grabbing every rebound in sight.

“Moses Malone would’ve been proud of Love,” said Gurley referencing a late, old-school NBA rebounding legend. “Love doesn’t get every rebound, but he goes hard after every rebound.”

A.J. Banks tossed in 14 points for Carson, mostly from long range. Brenden Westbrook battled for 13 points on a gimpy ankle. Owen White made three 3-pointers and scored 11. Cameron Prugh slashed for 10.

But Jamarius Hairston, who came in averaging 24.7 points per game, had only three and also picked up a frustration technical foul in the third quarter.
For West, Kure (15), Hillie (14), Weeks (12) and Mauldin (11) scored in double figures.

“In Kure’s first game for us (the loss at Davie) he was nervous and tried to do too much because he was the only ballhandler we had,” Gurley said. “But we had a lot more guards with us tonight. He relaxed and he played very well.”

Gurley was upbeat after the game. He realizes his guys probably aren’t going to be make eight 3-pointers every night, but there’s no reason why they can’t be really bood.

“I know the pride that a lot of these guys play with when they put on that West Rowan football helmet, and it was good to see them play with that same sort of pride on the basketball court,” Gurley said. “Having our football guys with us doesn’t guarantee wins, but it does guarantee fight and it does guarantee effort.”
Carson will try to bounce back tonight at Thomasville. West plays another big one at North Rowan tonight. That’s a trple-header with the jayvee boys starting at 4:30 p.m.

Banks 14, Westbrook 13, White 11, Prugh 11, Williams 5, Sifford 3, Hairston 3, Perry.

WEST (76)
Kure 15, Hillie 14, Weeks 12, Mauldin 11, Love 8, Delgado 5, Lawrence 4, Rankin 3, Quarles 2, Hogue 2, Myers, Dixon.

Carson 14 15 11 19 — 59
West Rowan 30 19 13 14 — 76



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