High school boys basketball: North ends season in mountains

Published 5:05 am Wednesday, February 22, 2023


Staff report

BURNSVILLE — Top-seeded Mountain Heritage pulled away from North Rowan to win 62-44 on Tuesday in the first round of the 1A state basketball playoffs, although there were stretches when it was hard to tell who was the No. 1 seed and who was No. 32.

North (12-15) had its chances and was still down only five points with 3:30 left in the third quarter.

Mountain Heritage (24-1) connected on only three 3-pointers, but won for the 23rd time in a row, beating the shorter Cavaliers mostly with timely stick-backs.

Max Smoker scored 27 for the winners, using his 6-foot-7 length to get off lots of well-angled and high percentage bank shots.

On a warmer shooting night, North might have shocked the world, but leading scorer George Maxwell made only one 3-pointer and scored five points. Dyzarious Carpenter (13 points) and Amir Alexander (12) shouldered most of the offensive load for the Cavaliers.

North started slowly on the offensive end, but got a couple of early 3-pointers and blocks from an energetic Alexander, played hard on the defensive end and trailed 14-10 after a quarter.

Carpenter got it going in the second quarter and tossed in 10. When he nailed a confident 3-pointer from the left corner, it was 21-all with 2;25 left in the second quarter, and a mostly Mountain Heritage crowd was getting antsy.

A Mountain Heritage put-back broke the tie, and a Lawson Higgins 3-pointer gave the Cougars a 26-21 cushion at the half.

North stayed within striking distance as the first four minutes of the third quarter unfolded, but Mountain Heritage stayed on top with offensive rebounding. Shelton, the reigning 1A shot put state champ, waded through the lane for a big, third-chance bucket to stretch the home team’s lead to seven.

Shelton had three buckets in the fourth quarter to finish off the Cavaliers. He scored 11, and North never found an answer for Smoker.

Mountain Heritage will host No. 16 seed Carolina International on Thursday.

North Rowan      10    11    16   7   — 44

Mtn, Heritage     14    12   20  16  — 62

North — Carpenter 13, Alexander 12, Maxwell 5, Tarver 5, McArthur 4, Alford 3, Charleston 2.