High school boys basketball: Falcons have won 13 out of 14

Published 6:07 pm Saturday, January 28, 2023

By Mike London

MOUNT ULLA — They are sweeping an awful lot of varsity doubleheaders in Mount Ulla.

While everyone knows the West Rowan girls are still undefeated, the West boys have, somewhat under the radar, won 13 out of their last 14 games under first-year head coach Dadrian Cuthbertson.

The only loss in that 14-game stretch was to Central Cabarrus, the top-ranked team in 3A.

West’s boys began this season 0-5 and included in that snake-bit start — three games could have gone either way — was a frustrating 63-62 setback on Dec. 6 at Northwest Cabarrus.

The Falcons had to wait seven weeks for payback, but they got it. They beat the Trojans 59-51 at home on Friday.

Will Givens made four 3-pointers and scored 18 points, bouncing back from a foul-plagued, eight-point night.

Athan Gill, who averages almost 20, was held to 11, but Kayvone Norman scored 10, freshman Brant Graham got nine, and a return to action by Adrian Stockton, who had been out for a month with a meniscus injury, was really helpful.

“We were missing Romir Hairston tonight, and he’s a guy who gives us a lot of energy,” Cuthbertson said. “So it was huge for us to get Stockton back. He’s a special athlete, and he was all over the place. He had a really big tip-in on a missed free throw.”

It was a good night for Stockton, who also won the coveted title of “Mr. West Rowan.”

The favorable outcome for the men in light blue was huge for a number of reasons.

If you’ve happened to see Central Cabarrus, you know the only serious fight in the South Piedmont Conference is for second place.

West (13-6, 8-2) definitely has a chance to win that fight and getting a split with the Trojans (9-8, 7-3) was a huge step forward toward securing the silver medal. It was going to be very difficult for West to finish ahead of Northwest in the standings if the Falcons had gotten swept.

In the 3A West RPI rankings, there’s a competitive cluster that includes the SPC’s No. 2 through No. 5 teams. Concord is 15th. West, which won its first meeting with Concord, is 18th. Northwest is 23rd. Lake Norman Charter, which has a very dangerous team, is 25th. West’s rematches with Concord and Lake Norman Charter are going to be pretty fierce encounters.

As has often been the case, West played in spurts offensively on Friday. It was a low-scoring game between two teams that pride themselves on what they do on the defensive end of the court. West normally scores 70, but the Trojans only allow 57 per game.

“We came out strong and got on them pretty good and we led by as many as 20 points,” Cuthbertson said. “But then we went from playing really good to being in a funk offensively. There was a little bit of an altercation on a loose ball, we lost some focus, and it went downhill for us for a while. We ended up having to hang on. It should have been easier than it was.”

Cuthbertson has gotten used to riding that roller coaster. It’s not always smooth for the Falcons, but the effort has always been there.

And even when they’re struggling to score, they usually can still stop people.

The game at Lake Norman Charter is next for the Falcons on Tuesday. LNC is taller than West and has a terrific senior point guard in Isaiah Martino. That will mean a challenging defensive assignment for Norman, who did a good job of staying in front of Martino when the Falcons beat LNC 84-68 in Mount Ulla. Givens and Gill combined for 50 points in that game.

West scoring — Givens 18, Gill 11, Norman 10, Graham 9, Stockton 6, Holmes 5.