West Rowan boys fall to Cox Mill, 89-48
By David Shaw
MOUNT ULLA —West Rowan’s boys basketball team was hoping to hang with one of the state’s premier 3A teams Friday night. Unbeaten Cox Mill had other plans.
The visiting Chargers turned the court into a fast-paced runway, applied a suffocating press and left West fuming in an 89-48 non-league victory.
“Going in, we knew we would not face a press defense with that much length and that much quickness,” West coach Mike Gurley said. “I thought maybe we could learn to beat a press like that — and we did at some times, but obviously, more times we didn’t. I thought we showed courage, because 98.5 percent of the people that showed up tonight wouldn’t get on the court with that group.”
Cox Mill (7-0) made nine 3-pointers in the second half — and 12 total — in a game coach Jody Barbee said was pivotal to his team.
“We needed something like this,” he said. “Our chemistry, on offense, has not been very good this season. But that’s the best we’ve shot it in the last three years.”
The guests received a game-high 36 points from 6-foot-6 junior guard Wendell Moore, Jr. and 18 from UNC commit Leaky Black — a 6-8 swingman.
“You never know how good you are until you play a team like that,” West senior Caleb Mauldin said, after the Falcons dropped to 3-4. “It’s always better to play them than not play them. In a way, it’s a defining moment for us. We learned a lot about ourselves tonight.”
Mauldin had 21 hard-fought points and teammate Martavio Rankin added 10. But it simply wasn’t enough to keep pace with Cox Mill’s avalanche of 3-balls.
“When a game gets like that, it just gets like that,” Gurley said. “For the most part, we played hard and did our best for 24 minutes. The last eight minutes, the game was decided, it got a little useless.”
West found itself competing for the lead early in the second quarter. An 8-0 scoring run capped by Jay Joseph’s three-point play pulled the Falcons to within 20-16. Cox Mill responded with an 11-0 spurt and punctuated the evening when Moore’s long-distance connection from the left side gave the Chargers a 34-18 edge.
“I really liked our aggressiveness and how we stayed in attack mode,” Barbee said. “And Wendell and Leaky did a good job guarding Caleb all night. That’s not an easy job.”
Mauldin had 14 first-half points but was bottled up in the second. His last basket came late in the third quarter and made it 60-38.
“With the way they pressed, with all those long arms everywhere, it was tough out there,” Mauldin, a 6-8 center, said. “They had four or five people as big as me. That was an elite team.”
It’s practically the same team that beat West four times last season, including a second-round playoff decision. “Tell Gurley he hasn’t beaten me yet,” Barbee said, jokingly, in the visitors dressing room. “I still own him.”
Gurley, meanwhile, couldn’t help but compare the Chargers to West’s 2002 and 2003 state championship teams.
“They’ve got some good pieces,” he said. “When I look at them, I do reflect back on ’02 and ’03 because we were like that. We were hard to deal with. And that’s what they are right now.”
COX MILL (89) — Moore 36, Black 18, Stone-Carrawell 12, Bynum 8, Davis 6, Morgan 5, Cline 2, Hall 2, Sedergren, Baruti, Harding.
WEST ROWAN (48) — Mauldin 21, Rankin 10, Stolsworth 5, Joseph 5, Sproul 3, Brawley 2, Dixon 2, Tadlock, Myers, Warren.
Cox Mill 20 27 24 18 — 89
West Rowan 13 14 13 8 — 48
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