Hooper leads East Rowan boys past South Rowan, 71-47
By David Shaw
LANDIS — If you’ve seen even a little bit of East Rowan’s Elton Hooper, you probably want to see more.
The 6-foot-7 senior was more than host South Rowan could handle Tuesday night in the Mustangs’ 71-47 non-conference victory.
“We’re trying to make history,” said Hooper, a defensive end for East’s resurgent football team this fall. “We made the playoffs in football and now we’re trying to do the same in basketball. It’s all coming together.”
Hooper was unstoppable as East (2-0) spoiled South’s season-opener. He’s emerged as the Fresh Prince of Rowan County after scoring 23 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and thrilling the mid-week crowd with five slam dunks.
“Elton is ready to play every game,” said winning coach Kurt Misenheimer. “He had four or five dogs. We did a much better job getting the ball to our bigs tonight. We have a big lineup, but we also have a lot more shooters than we’ve had in the past. We’re going to be an inside-out team.”
Hooper delivered an industrial-strength jam in the opening quarter, but watched the Mustangs fall behind, 17-14, when South’s Jarron Hines buried a 14-foot jump shot from the right side with 6:34 remaining in the first half.
“At the end of the day, they go 6-9 and 6-8 inside and probably 250 or 280 pounds,” said Hines, the Raiders’ top scorer with 15 points. “Six-nine against 6-foot guys like me is a whole ‘nother ballgame.”
East regained the lead of a basket by Gabe Hinceman and two free throws by Hooper. That ignited a 16-2 run that included Hooper’s second grand slam of the game, off a feed from Hinceman, midway through the second period.
“I had my eyes on the rim and didn’t see anybody below me,” said Hooper, who gave East a 20-17 lead. “They were on the ground. I was in the air. That play was a game-changer. (Hinceman) and I made eye contact, he dropped it in there and it was just the rim and me.”
East led by eight points at the half and extended it to 53-32 when Hooper took a third-quarter pass from Brandon Jefferson (12 points, 8 rebounds) and jammed like he was mad at the rim. “No one likes to see someone dunk against them,” said Hines. “We tried to fight back, but it was just one big run after another.”
Surpassing 70 points was a new sensation for Misenheimer, East’s fourth-year boss.
“I haven’t coached teams that can score in the 60s and 70s,” he said. “But I think offensively, we’re going to be a lot more efficient and a lot more aggressive. In the past, we got after it on the defensive end, but struggled on offense. We hope to be improved on both ends.”
For one night, East was dribbling in the right direction.
NOTES: East’s biggest lead was 26 points, achieved when reserve Connor Wilson beamed in a last-minute 3-pointer. … Hinceman had seven points and five assists and Padgett, a 6-3 freshman, contributed nine points and six rebounds. … Junior Andrew Jones (13 points) gave South two scorers in double figures. … East hosts A.L. Brown tonight and visits Central Cabarrus on Friday. South kicks off Central Carolina Conference play Friday at home against East Davidson.
EAST ROWAN (71) — Hooper 23, Jefferson 12, Padgett 9, Jordan 8, G.Hinceman 7, Sprinkle 7, Wilson 3, Shuping 2, Walker, I.Hinceman, Plemmons.
SOUTH ROWAN (47) — Hines 15, Jones 13, Finger 8, Dextraze 4, Peacock 3, Tompson 2, Fullard 2, Gaskin, Stanley.
East Rowan 14 17 22 18 — 71
South Rowan 13 10 9 15 — 47
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