East Rowan boys fall to Northwest Cabarrus 70-40

Published 11:43 pm Friday, December 10, 2021

By David Shaw

For the Salisbury Post

GRANITE QUARRY — Someone must have pulled the plug on the East Rowan boys basketball team Friday night.

The Mustangs barely showed a spark in a disappointing, 70-40 SPC loss to visiting Northwest Cabarrus.

“Our energy, our defensive effort,” first-year coach Andrew Porter said with a post-game shrug. “It wasn’t there tonight. I know we didn’t hit a lot of shots, but our thing here has been play hard and give the effort. And after the first quarter, we didn’t give enough effort to stay in the game.”

You don’t need a mathematics degree from MIT to understand why. East (2-5, 0-2 SPC) converted only four of 21 field goal attempts in the first half, fell behind by 20 points and never recovered. And while the Mustangs finished with 15 baskets, it wasn’t near enough to overcome the high-octane Trojans (4-2, 2-0 SPC), who brought a busload of heat and turned the game into a hearty round of batting practice.

“At the end of the day, all I can ask my guys for is energy and effort,” said winning coach Ricky Moore. “If they give me that, I’m pleased as a coach. Tonight we executed, made the extra pass, made the right plays and wore them down.”

Northwest forced 24 turnovers and placed four scorers in double figures, led by senior Javier Matthews. The  6-foot-2 forward came off the bench and lit the place up, draining five 3-pointers and netting 20 points despite serving as a cheerleader in the fourth quarter. East received a game-high 22 points and 14 rebounds from junior Tee Harris, the only Mustang who brought a tune you could dance to. Teammate Dylan Valley — the old-school shooting guard who’d tossed in 75 points in East’s previous three games — turned in a subpar performance, finishing 2-for-12 from the field for six points.

“I just couldn’t get anything to fall,” said the frustrated Valley, a 5-10 firecracker who was held scoreless until the final stanza. “They out-hustled us, out-rebounded us and obviously, we had trouble making shots.”

For that, the Mustangs were rewarded with a 40-minute, post-game practice session. Porter said he wanted to focus on playing tighter defense and dealing with fatigue. “We’ll work when we’re tired,” he explained. “It’ll help us improve the things we didn’t do well in the game. We’ll take that and use it to get better.”

Harris, an impossible-to-ignore 6-6 presence underneath and on the perimeter, hit a baseline jumper and a pair of free throws to keep East  within 9-7 after one period. The guests responded with an 18-2 run to open the second, highlighted by a pair of uncontested Matthews’ 3-balls from opposite wings.

“Javy has a ton of potential,” Moore noted. “At least I think so. He was a starter at the beginning of the year, but since I’ve been bringing him off the bench he’s played much better. I think when the game starts, he watches and gets a feel for what he can do, and its helped him tremendously. I’ll keep doing that as long as he keeps producing.”

Matthews had 12 points by halftime and the Trojans owned a 32-12 lead. East found a pulse as the third quarter unspooled, closing within 36-23 when Harris scored on an authoritative putback with 5:58 on the clock. He collected 15 points in the period and finished 9-for-16 from the field.

“I think he stepped up and realized he could take control of the game in the second half,” said Porter. “I wish we could have had more of that effort in the first half. That would have helped.”

Moore was certainly impressed. “I liked (Harris) a lot. For a junior, he’s got a world of opportunity. He’s relentless on the backboards and must have had 10 offensive rebounds. The emphasis for us was to make sure we put two guys on him and try to box him out, because we don’t have the height.”

Northwest used a 13-0 scoring flurry to mount a 52-26 edge late in the third quarter, then limited East to three buckets in the fourth. Junior reserve Whitt Hoesman corralled an offensive rebound and hit a layup for the Mustangs’ last field goal with 2:47 remaining.

“Just not a good night,” Harris said afterward. “All we can do is practice hard and try to put it together for our next game.”

NOTES: Valley did not attempt a shot from inside the 3-point line. He entered the game averaging 18.2 points per contest, with a season-best 26 in East’s 58-53 win against CATA on Wednesday. …  The Mustangs had 24 turnovers, largely due to Northwest’s rotating zone defense. … East hosts Lake Norman Charter in another conference match next Friday. The Trojans, who made 11 3-pointers and won their third straight game, visit West Rowan the same night.

NORTHWEST CABARRUS (70) — Matthews 20, Grigley 15, Sierra 13, Gonder 11, Cook 4, Thompson 3, Carter 2, Muldrow 2.

EAST ROWAN (40) — Harris 22, Valley 6, Sprinkle 3, Dale 3, Wembolua 2, Hoesman 2, Haynes 2, Clement, Ellis, Usher, Trexler, Everhart.

Northwest Cabarrus      9     23     20     18 — 70

East Rowan                    7      5      18      10 — 40