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North Rowan boys edge East Rowan, 49-45

By Marny Hendrick


SALISBURY — It took a while, but the North Rowan Cavaliers finally solved a tough East Rowan zone defense and made the clutch plays down to stretch to secure a 49-45 win, Thursday morning at Goodman Gymnasium.

The win for North (6-1) came in the opening round of the Dale’s/Moir Basketball Christmas Classic, as they caught up at the end of the third period then got the key rebounds and free throws when it counted most.

Sophomore forward Chaz McCombs hit a pair of short jumpers in the final two minutes to keep the margin at four points, 46-42, then guard David Broaddus sank three clutch free throws in the final 20 seconds to wrap it up.

East Rowan (5-6) trimmed the margin to two points on two occasions in the final four minutes, thanks to key baskets by Bryson Sprinkle (10 points), but the Cavaliers successfully played keep-away with a succession of offensive rebounds by Brevin Goodlett and Quintous Smith, keeping the clock moving.

“This wasn’t our best shooting performance and it wasn’t our best effort overall,” said North coach Martin Unger, in his Moir Classic debut. “But we found a way to grind it out. I told the team that it didn’t matter how it happened, as long as it happened.”

Early on, it was a completely different story, as East used its 2-3 zone to baffle the Cavaliers, forcing them to take ill-advised 25-foot jumpers. An unlikely sequence of four offensive fouls further hampered North. Late in the second quarter, the Mustangs’ lead reached 10 points, 26-16, thanks to the inside scoring of Brandon Jefferson and Elton Hooper (10 points).

East Rowan head coach Kurt Misenheimer thought his team was right where they needed to be before it started to come apart late. “I came in here expecting to win this basketball game,” Misenheimer said. “I thought we had the most talented team. But down the stretch, they (North) just played harder than we did. They got more loose balls and more second-chance points on the boards. That is what decided the game.”

East was very accurate from the floor, shooting 50 per cent, but it came on only 15 field goals in 30 tries. North, meanwhile, attempted 43 shots.

Junior forward Dayjuwan Cooke was a key reason the Cavaliers prevailed with a pair of key buckets early in the fourth period and a game-high 18 points for the winners. Guard Derrick Page chipped in 11 points, despite some foul troubles.

“I just had to show some leadership there in the end,” said the 6-4 Cooke. “We all started out slowly, but we talked at halftime and came out better after that. That game was a wake-up call for us. We just have to step it up the next game.”

The “next game” the Cavaliers face is a tough one, as they square off against cross-town rival Salisbury (9-0), today in the 4:30 semifinal.

EAST ROWAN (45) — Hooper 10, Sprinkle 10, Bennett 9, Jefferson 8, Hinceman 4, Scruggs 2, Spry 2, Jordan.

NORTH ROWAN (49) — Cooke 18, Page 11, Smith 9, McCombs 8, Broaddus 3, Clement, Goodlett, Colson.

E. Rowan     7   19  11     8 — 45

N. Rowan    9   11    18   11 — 49



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