Crowley delivers under pressure for Ellis boys

Published 11:58 am Tuesday, January 30, 2024

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Cam James had a vintage performance when the Ellis boys basketball team clobbered West Rowan. Two days later, Jordan Crowley rescued the Jaguars with less than two seconds remaining when he sank the tying and game-winning points from the free-throw line against Mooresville.

James’ eye-popping stat line in a 54-20 wipeout at West Rowan on Jan. 23 was 12 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. Yes, an unheard-of triple-double for the big fella.

“James was unreal,” coach Mike Dinkins said. “He would rebound it, we would throw it down the court and we were shooting layups. Cam has greatly improved since we first started.”

Four days after a four-point loss to Erwin, the Jaguars came out blazing. Crowley dropped in 10 points during a 23-6 burst in the first quarter. Ellis scored 21 of 23 points in the second to extend the margin to 44-8, and Dinkins called off the dogs in the second half.

Ellis’ top five scorers were sixth graders: Crowley with 12, Graham Wood with 8, Chance McLean with 6 and Hunter Hough with 6. Also scoring were Peyton Fishel (5), Bentley Carter (3) and Josiah Warren (2).

“Our fullcourt and three-quarter traps worked,” Dinkins said. “We went from 25 turnovers (in the loss to Erwin) to 12, and that helped.”

Ellis 32, Moor 31

In a home game against Mooresville, the Jaguars pulled off a wild win in the final seconds.

Crowley came out hot to stake Ellis to a 10-6 lead. It was 17-10 in Ellis’ favor at halftime, but the Jaguars lost their rhythm in the third. James’ foul trouble compounded matters. After averaging 10 points in the first three games, he spent most of the game on the bench and fouled out early in the fourth as he finished with three points.

Ellis’ lead was reduced to 24-23 in the third.

“We played awful for about 10 minutes and got behind,” Dinkins said. “We turned it over 18 times in the second half. Cam didn’t play but maybe three and a half minutes.”

Ellis had a two-point lead with a minute left, but the Red Imps hit a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left (gasp). Down by one, Ellis called timeout to set up the final play.

“I said: ‘OK, here’s what we’re going to do. Jordan, you’re going to catch the ball and dribble it all the way down the court. We’re going to run our little LA play with Peyton at the top. We’ll do the pick-and-roll. Jordan, if you can take it all the way to the rim, take it all the way to the rim,’” Dinkins said.

As designed, Crowley got the ball. The whistle blew with 1.4 seconds to go. Crowley was headed to the line for two pressure-packed free throws. He made both to give his team an exhilarating victory.

Crowley made 7 of 8 foul shots in the game to finish with a season-high 14 points. It was his third double-figure game. Hough had 6, Fishel 4, Wood 3 and Ryan Richardson 2. Warren did not score, but he more than made up for that by pulling down 14 rebounds.

Hough hit two 3s and “one of them was really big in the third because they had taken the lead and we got the lead back,” Dinkins said after Ellis pushed its record to 3-1.

Selma 48, ND 35

Selma Burke overpowered host North Davie in the first half and coasted to a win on Jan. 22.

The halftime margin was 34-14. To the Wildcats’ credit, they did not quit. They rallied to within 10 with a minute remaining.

“I’m proud of our team for battling back in the second half,” coach Trevor Gooch said after North fell to 3-2. “We missed a ton of layups off the offensive boards (in the first half). We had too many turnovers in the first half as well. Once we settled down in the second half, we outscored them 21-14.”

Tannyr Carrier (10 points) produced double figures for the fourth straight game. Nathan Smith scored 10 and controlled 12 rebounds for the second game in a row. Peyton Jordan had eight points, Wade Ridenhour five and Levi Morales two.

“Tannyr did a good job driving to the basket and knocking down some jump shots,” Gooch said. “Nathan was a beast in the post.”

Moor 50, SD 21

South’s first loss in four games was a drubbing at Mooresville on Jan. 22. This game was already going to be a steep challenge, and the Tigers hurt themselves by missing 23 of 29 free throws.

Jared Vaughters had 11 points, Dreighton Lunnerman 6 and Crosby Parker 4.

Erwin 46, SD 45 (OT)

One day later on the road, the Tigers had a heartbreaking loss in overtime.   

It was a game of runs. South outscored the Eagles 16-7 in the third to take a 31-23 lead. But Erwin countered with a 16-8 charge in the fourth as regulation ended 39-39.

South came up just short despite James Martin’s three 3-pointers and 15 points. Vaughters had 13, Lunnerman 8, Colson Dulin 6 and Kayden Young 3.