By MICHAEL HUGHES
VALE –– Visiting Cherryville used sticky man-to-man defense and opportunistic offense for four quarters to race past West Lincoln in Tuesday’s early tune-up. D.J. Cunningham scored 13 of his game-high 18 points in a prolific first half to lead the Ironmen past the Rebels, 92-69.
Freshman Yung Sherrill added 13 points and juniors Grant Henderson chipped in with 11 as 11 players scored for Cherryville (2-0).
Twelve were in the scoring column for hustling West Lincoln, led by sophomore Coltyn Miller’s 14.
“As much as we run in practice, we still get tired,” said winning coach Scott Harrill, “but I thought tonight they gave great effort. We run [substitutes] in and out. We’ve got pretty good depth, so that helps out a lot.”
Leading 27-13 after one quarter, Cherryville built a 25-point lead at the break behind Cunningham, a senior transfer from Lincolnton, and a variety of long-range baskets and two-pointers coming from the secondary break.
“We tell them that practice is the coaches’ time,” said Harrill. “In the game we kind of let them go and do their thing. We want to play tough defense to make it hard on the opposing [team] to get in their offense.
“I was really happy with Rhyer Davis,” he added of the athletic junior. “He just got out of football, so this was his first game. He controlled the tempo for us.”
The Rebels (0-3) outscored Cherryville in the second half and surpassed the Ironmen’s eight 3-pointers with nine of their own, but could never get back in the game over the last two up-and-down quarters. West Lincoln hurt its chances by missing on 10 of 26 free throw attempts for the game.
“We’ve got a lot of new kids with us, not all [of them] young,” Harrill said of a squad that features two transfers, three freshmen and two sophomores. “And we were very unselfish. We made a lot of good passes.”
Cherryville takes to the road again tonight with a December battle at Kings Mountain, followed by Friday’s bout at North Gaston.
West Lincoln’s next game is today at Valdese Draughn.
WEST LINCOLN 40, CHERRYVILLE 32
West Lincoln’s girls overcame a one-point first quarter to pick up their second win of the year.
Olivia Sain scored 10 points for the Rebels (2-1), who trailed 6-1 after the first period. But they scored 13 points in each of the final three quarters in the victory.
Ashton Bruning-Sole and Erin Huff added eight points for West Lincoln. Molly Whitworth had a game-high 13 points for Cherryville (1-1).