Cherryville Ironmen hoops team wins at Mount Airy 67-66
“We won!” was the rallying cry from the CHS Ironmen and their exuberant fans and Metal Heads students after the first round of NCSHAA 2020 State Tournament action against a stunned Mount Airy Bears hoops crew last week. (photos provided)
by MICHAEL E. POWELL
Against Mount Airy (first round action)
Coach Scott Harrill said the Cherryville Ironmen made the road trip to Mount Airy and came away with, as he put it, “One of the most exciting playoff wins in school history!”
Said Harrill, “The Ironmen got down by 12 points early on then fought back as (junior) Austin Thompson had a career night scoring 22 points and was a man among boys inside during the fourth quarter, scoring 14 points in the last frame, including the game winner.”
Coach Harrill said Lane Harrill “caught fire” in the second quarter, hitting three straight three-pointers, and teammate Lavonte Hughes continued to put pressure on Mount Airy’s Granite Bears, driving past them and getting fouled. Coach Harrill said Hughes chipped in 10 points in the second quarter.
At the halftime, the score had the Ironmen down by one. Then, in the third quarter, the game stayed close but the Ironmen only had one lead at 47-46, before the Bears took the lead again.
Coach Harrill noted that with Harrill being guarded by two and three people at times, it opened the middle up for Thompson to go to work in the fourth frame.
“With 1:26 on the clock, Cherryville found itself down by six. Harrill was fouled on a three-pointer and made his free throws, followed by a foul on Thompson.”
Hughes got in for a huge rebound, said Coach Harrill, who then called a timeout and set up an inbounds play that went to Lane Harrill, whose pull-up jumper from 17 feet away just rimmed out, and once again, the speedy Hughes came down with the rebound.
Coach Harrill said that after another time out with five seconds to go, he drew up another play, this time using Lane as the decoy, after three players jumped Harrill in the corner, point guard Hughes found a back cut from Thompson; the perfect pass then set up Thompson, who made the game-winning layup with two seconds on the clock.
Coach Harrill said, “All the boys played with great effort and intensity. Dylan (Harden) and Jeremy (Varela) both gave great effort on the defensive end of the court.
Scorers for the Ironmen were Lane Harrill (20 points, 13 rebounds, and four assists); Austin Thompson (22 points); Lavonte Hughes (11 points, 8 assists); Dylan Harden (8 points); and Jeremy Varela (7 points).
Against Starmount (second round action)
The 22-seed Ironmen lost this one to the sixth seed Starmount club by a score of 67-61.
Coach Harrill said the Ironmen finished their 2020 season in the second round of the state playoffs last Thursday night, Feb. 27, at Starmount.
Said Harrill, “It was a tale of two halves for the Ironmen as we jumped out to a 38-30, lead in the first half behind 22 first-half points from senior Lane Harrill.
“Harrill was hot from the three-point line as well as driving to the basket and had 22 points in the first half, as I said.
“Austin Thompson and Lavonte Hughes both chipped in six points in the first half, but Starmount changed to a box and one with a man in Harrill’s chest from baseline to baseline the entire second half.”
With the box and one on Lane, the Ironmen were not able to knock down some open shots and saw the lead slip away, noted Coach Harrill.
“Going into the fourth quarter the game was tied at 50-all then we got into a little foul trouble and the Rams took the lead with five minutes to go,’ he said. “Cherryville only was able to hit two shots in the fourth quarter and Lane went 6 for 7 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter but could not overcome the deficit.
“Starmount knocked down free throws to seal the game 67-61,” said Coach Harrill.
The Ironmen’s 2020 roundball season ends at 17-11. Coach Harrill noted the last time the Ironmen got this far in the state tournament was in 2014.
(Additional information by Susan L. Powell and Danny Eaker)