High school basketball: Cavaliers win third straight YVC tourney
By Mike London
DENTON — Conference tournaments are usually about bragging rights and trophies, but the Yadkin Valley Conference boys championship game also was a seed-decider.
Second-seeded North Rowan grabbed the league’s No. 1 seed for the 1A state playoffs with a convincing 59-35 victory against top-seeded Chatham Central.
The teams entered the tournament on equal footing after finishing in a three-way tie for first in the conference, along with South Stanly. All three teams split their regular-season contests. South Stanly was knocked off in the first round of the tournament by Uwharrie Charter. That made the Bulls No. 3.
North Rowan (20-7) settled No. 1 on Saturday at South Davidson High.
“This was a really significant win as far as the playoffs because it probably means the opportunity for at least two home games, and it’s always better to play at home,” North coach Jason Causby said. “But we didn’t stress that pregame to the kids. We wanted them to just relax and play. I thought we played tight in the semifinals (a 57-44 win against Uwharrie Charter). We stressed to the players today that the hard part was over. The hard part is getting to the championship game. Now let’s have some fun.”
North led 13-6 after a quarter and by 29-15 at halftime.
“We had a good game plan,” Causby said. “They’re hard to prepare for because a lot of what they do is read and react, but we played really hard on defense and took them out of a lot of what they wanted to do. We usually limited them to one shot, and when we can a rebound and get an outlet pass, we can get out and score quickly.”
Denerio Robinson scored a career-high 22 points and added six rebounds.
“He was locked in from the start and on the attack,” Causby said. “And there were a couple of times when he stayed with his own missed and got stick-backs.”
Many North games hinge on the floor minutes and production of 6-foot-10 sophomore Brandon White. White had 12 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks.
Chatham Central embarrassed North 54-30 in a YVC game in Spencer, surprising the Cavaliers with a barrage of 3-pointers and backdoor cuts. A foul-plagued White had two points in that one.
When North won 51-37 at Chatham Central, White had 14 points.
“You could tell today that Chatham Central was a little apprehensive of Brandon,” Causby said. “We were able to be very aggressive out front, deny the passes to the wings, because we knew we had Brandon back there to clean things up if anyone was able to get by. Brandon also takes care of a lot of the back-door stuff.”
Kendrell Goodes had 11 points and six rebounds.
“He was active,” Causby said.
It was the third straight YVC tournament crown for North Rowan since returning to the 1A ranks. In 2018, under interim coach Bill Kesler, the Cavaliers won thrillers against Albemarle and North Stanly to take the title. Current Cavaliers Goodes and Zay Davis were part of that squad.
In 2019, with Causby as head coach and Kesler assisting, the Cavaliers won one-point games against North Stanly and South Stanly for a repeat championship.
Kesler hasn’t been with the Cavaliers physically this season for family reasons, but he’s never far from the thoughts of the players or coaches.
“Bill Kesler came to North the same year that I was born,” Causby said. “This is a championship we dedicate to Bill and his family.”
N. Rowan 59, Chatham 35
N. ROWAN (59) — Robinson 22, White 12, Goodes 11, Carpenter 7, Davis 5, M. Wilson 2, Gladden, Jefferson, Sims, Mitchellm Watkins.
CHATHAM (35) — Cox 11, Skertich 9, Gaines 6, Moore 5, Lagenor 2, N. Wilson 2.
N. Rowan 13 16 13 17 — 59
Chatham 6 9 11 9 — 35