• 57°

High school basketball: Falcons rally from early deficit

By Mike London


MOUNT ULLA — It wasn’t exactly the start West Rowan boys basketball coach Mike Gurley had dreamed about.

Monroe led Gurley’s dazed and confused Falcons 12-0 on the scoreboard and Gurley had just burned his second timeout and was trying to figure out his next motivational speech.

“Anytime you play a team coached by Johnny Sowell it’s going to be gut-check time,” Gurley said. “His teams are going to play you as hard and as tough as anybody. Monroe came to play. I knew they would.”

Besides Sowell, the Monroe Redhawks had Shaleak Knotts in their corner. Knotts is a 6-foot-2 athlete with a stack of college football scholarship offers from ACC and SEC schools to play wide receiver.

He can also hoop. Knotts scored 30, but the Falcons managed to rally for a 69-60 victory in a first-round 3A playoff game.

It was a determined, inexorable comeback from that early hole. West got back within 19-14 after a quarter. Monroe’s lead was 34-28 at halftime.

“Monroe played a matchup zone and  did a good  job on our shooters,” Gurley said. “But we started chipping away. We got back into it.”

Seeded 16th, Monroe (9-4) had a quickness advantage, but with 6-foot-6 Zeek Biggers, the Georgia Tech football recruit, top-seeded West (14-1) had a size advantage.

“We did a good job with the two-man game with Zeek and Jalen Moss,” Gurley said. “Zeek is always going to be a matchup problem unless our opponent borrows someone from the Charlotte Hornets. Moss drove it well. Juke Harris drove it well. Macari Allison made some big shots.”

Allison made three 3-pointers.

West trailed 47-45 going to the fourth quarter, but had enough left for a big finish and a 24-point fourth quarter..

With 3:50 left, West finally moved on top 53-51 and pulled away in the last two minutes.

“We really had to work for it,” Gurley said. “But we got the first one.”

Moss scored 20 and had five assists. Biggers had nine points and 10 rebounds. Braden Graham scored 12, while Harris had 10.

West won a playoff game for the first time since it beat Tuscola in 2017.

That 2017 season was the one in which West lost to Cox Mill four times, twice in the South Piedmont Conference regular season, plus the conference tournament and the second round of the plyoffs.

Next for the Falcons on Thursday is a visit from  … Cox Mill (11-2).

“I’m pretty sure we’re 0-75 against Cox Mill,” Gurley said.

Cox Mill beat A.C. Reynolds 44-31 on Tuesday. A.C. Reynolds slowed things down. Cox Mill averages about 70 per game with a lot of balance, so the Falcons are expected to have their hands full again on Thursday.


MONROE (60) — Knotts 30, Robinson 10, Davis 6, Smith 6, Reed 5, Bivens 3.

WEST (69) — Moss 20, Allison 14, Graham 12, Harris 10, Biggers 9, Mauldin 2, Noble 2.

Monroe         19    15    13    13    — 60

W. Rowan    14   14    17    24    — 69












A.L. Brown celebrates seniors with signing day


Rebounding, but not recovered: Rowan County tourism begins challenging path toward normalcy

High School

High school baseball: Padgett leads Mustangs; 100th win for West coach Graham


RSS superintendent, Board of Health discuss strategies for increasing student vaccination rates


Gas stations report shortages as pipeline shutdown drags on


Lawyers: Black man didn’t drive into deputies who shot him


Liz Cheney says Trump and GOP backers threaten democracy


Rowan Health Department clarifies county’s COVID-19 death total is 301


Landis approves new land development ordinance, zoning map


Landis approves body camera, stun gun purchase for public safety officers


One charged, another dead on sheriff’s most wanted list


No injuries after car shot eight times on Old Concord Road


RSS talks first steps for new federal relief totaling $66 million

China Grove

Gary’s Barbecue staff, customers look back at 50 years


Salisbury Lions Club names Person of the Year, Lion of the Year at 78th annual banquet


Student COVID-19 numbers show first decline since plan A

High School

High school golf: Fowler competes in state tournament


Amazon announces new distribution center for North Carolina


House passes bill to bar Cooper from mandating COVID shot


Rowan County sees death 302 from COVID-19; Health Department to host final mass vaccine clinic

Ask Us

Ask Us: What happened to work on South Fulton Street home?


Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road


Rowan Sheriff’s Office charges Salisbury man with operating illegal gambling business


Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on felony drug, breaking and entering charges