North Rowan boys pound South Stanly

Published 11:18 pm Friday, December 1, 2017

By David Shaw

SPENCER —North Rowan’s boys didn’t waste any time warming up in the bullpen Friday night.

The Cavaliers sprinted to a double-digit lead in the first four-and-a-half minutes and coasted past South Stanly, 72-49, in their home opener.

“I loved the way we came out,” first-year coach Martin Unger said after North (2-0 Yadkin Valley Conference) achieved near-instant liftoff. “We really shot the ball well, had great intensity and just set the tone for the rest of the game. We played our style as far as attacking the rim and attacking them when they tried to take shots.”

It all happened in a hurry as run-and-gun North forced seven first-quarter turnovers, put together a pair of early 8-0 runs and raced to a 20-4 lead before the game was five-minutes old.

“Well, on Tuesday, we started out kind of slow,” junior Derrick Page said, referencing North’s opening-night win at Albemarle. “Tonight, we wanted to come out with intensity and put pressure on them right away. And we did that.”

It was Page’s short jump shot from the left side that pushed the Cavs ahead 8-0 after two minutes. Three-pointers by Quintous Smith and Josh Ellis extended the lead to 23-6, before 6-foot-4 junior Dajuwon Cooke brought the house down with a fastbreak jam that made it 25-8 late in the opening period.

“I just played that one right,” Cooke said, after pacing all scorers with 23 points. “Everybody likes seeing me dunk. Tonight, it seemed like one dunk led to another.”

Cooke finished with three stuffs — including one more off a burst, just seconds into the second half and an industrial strength flush-down with 2:36 remaining in the third quarter.

“He’s a monster,” said wide-eyed South Stanly coach Sean Whitley. “He’s so quick off the ball and obviously, knows how to finish. We kind of knew what to expect coming into this gym, but expecting it and actually experiencing it are two different things.”

Unger, who replaced former North coach Andrew Mitchell just days before the start of pre-season practice, praised Cooke’s highlight-reel performance.

“He was so aggressive, playing hard and attacking the rim,” he said. “Which I love.”

North used a 12-3 scoring spree to close the third quarter with a 56-35 lead. The Bulls (1-2, 0-1 YVC) inched as close as 62-47 following a twisting layup down the lane by Jacorian Legrand with 1:37 remaining. North’s game-ending 10-2 scoring binge include 3-balls by reserves Jacquez Smith and Nick Colson and a pretty left-side jumper from Kendrell Goodes.

“Their length and physicality got to us,” said Whitley. “They put a lot of pressure on the ball right away, and we didn’t respond very well. We got punched in the mouth in the first few minutes, but I’m proud of the way we finished.”

Legrand led South with 14 points, including 10 in the second half. Teammate Jaquez Cooke, a sturdy guard who penetrated with precision, added 13.

Unger was pleased with the outcome, but more because he used the night as a teaching opportunity.

“These games are character-building moments,” he concluded. “How do you handle it when things don’t go your way, when you don’t play as much as you want to? Or when things are going well, how do you handle it? That’s what we’re trying to teach these guys. Tonight was a good example.”

NOTES: Cooke shot 12-for 13 from the field and scored 26 points in North’s 72-68 win at Albemarle. … The Cavs sank 12 of 20 free throws and forced 21 turnovers last night. … North hosts Uwharrie Charter in another YVC tilt on Tuesday.

SOUTH STANLY (49) — Legrand 14, J.Cooke 13, Gaddy 10, Tarlton 8, Loftin 2, Lowder 2.

NORTH ROWAN (72) — D.Cooke 23, Goodlett 8, Ellis 8, Page 6, Clement 6, Q.Smith 5, Colson 5, Goodes 4, Davis 4, J.Smith 3, Broaddus, Stoner, McCombs.

S. Stanly                 12    12    11    14 — 49

N. Rowan               25    13    18   16 — 72