North Stanly men rally from 16 down, win close game at Mount Pleasant

Published 2:21 pm Sunday, February 11, 2024

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The North Stanly men’s basketball team entered Friday’s game at Mount Pleasant with just one loss in Yadkin Valley Conference play.

It came earlier in the season at North where the Comets lost a 14-point lead and eventually lost by 11 to Mount.

The script was reversed Friday night as the Tigers jumped out to a 16-point lead, but North rallied for a last-second, three point road win, 77-74.

Jalen Walker had a monster game for North (17-5, 7-1 YVC) with 28 points, hitting 9-of-15 from the field and 8-of-10 at the foul line.

Jack Williamson added 22 despite missing a significant amount of time in the second half after picking up his fourth foul. Williamson led North with five assists and nine rebounds.

Chase Latney led four in double figures for the Tigers with 18 points.

The first quarter was all Mount Pleasant. The Tigers jumped out to the lead with a 12-3 run to open the game, then outscored the Comets 12-4 down the stretch to lead by 16 after one quarter, 28-12.

“I was really disappointed about our defense in the first quarter,” North head coach George Walker said.

North’s defense tightened up in the second period. A long scoreless drought midway through the quarter allowed the Comets to get back in the game. A 3-pointer in the waning moments of the first half pulled North within four, 37-33.

“We got better defensively in the second, and were able to get out in transition and run a little bit, get some easy shots at the rim,” Walker said. “It was a back and forth battle for most of the night.”

Midway through the third, Williamson picked up his fourth foul with North up by two. The Comets kept a small lead through the rest of the period, leading 55-52 after three.

In the fourth, Walker stepped up big time, scoring eight straight for North and helping the Comets build a nine-point lead.

Mount (10-12, 6-3) used a trapping defense to post a 12-2 run and lead 66-65 in the fourth.

Walker put the Comets up with a 3-pointer to make it 72-70, and North eventually led in the final seconds by three.

The Tigers had three chances to tie the game with a 3-pointer in the waning moments of the game, but Gavin Helms blocked one attempt out of bounds, and Williamson blocked a last-second from well behind the arc as the buzzer sounded.

“Jalen does a lot of stuff that doesn’t necessarily show up in a stat sheet,” Walker said. “He had a look in his face that said, ‘I’m not losing tonight.’ ”

“It was a total role reversal tonight,” he added regarding North rallying from being down. “We kept telling them in the huddle, ‘They did it; we can do it.’ ”

With the win, North stays tied with South Stanly for first place in the standings. The two teams have games Tuesday (North hosts Albemarle, South is at Gray Stone). The two teams face off in Norwood Friday.

“There’s a lot on the line right now, things to take care of over the next few weeks…we know we’re one win away from winning the 2A portion of the league, which gets us a home state playoff game, which is huge for these kids. It’s something they’ve earned,” Walker said. “If we can beat Albemarle, playing at South is for all the marbles. Both teams (North and South) have had really incredible, storybook seasons.”

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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