CHINA GROVE — The Carson defense set the tone early then their patient offense finally paid off in the second half as they turned back county rival Salisbury Thursday, 55-43.
In a battle of 2-3 zone defenses, the Hornets (3-5) managed only 17 first half points then fell behind by double digits in the second half and were unable to respond. The Cougars (5-5) had their own issues with the Salisbury zone early but both sparkplug guard D.J. Love and Coach Brian Perry cited the ability to hit the gaps inside in the second half as key to the win.
“We just had to play together, hit the gaps and get it inside to our big men,” Love stated. “We still need to clean up some things at the end of the game but we will be fine.”
Love was one of the keys to the Cougar surge in the second half with a sequence of free throws, several key steals and a lay-up. Guard Marquez McCain added three baskets and a free throw as Carson expanded a 21-17 halftime lead to 41-31 after three quarters.
“We were grinding all night and started hitting our gaps a little better, “Perry echoed. “We had some good success once our big guys got their hands on the ball. D.J. is playing really well right now and he energizes us.”
Cougar inside players Colton Laws, Rameiq Howard and Myquon Stout were able to get to the basket in the third period and also created foul problems for Hornet big men Tyler Petty and Wes Fazia.
Carson expanded their margin to open the final quarter as sharpshooter Jacob Raper nailed a long three. Two inside baskets by Laws essentially settled the outcome as the Cougar lead reached 51-37 with just over four minutes left.
“We tried to play at our own pace on offense and speed it up on defense,”, the 6-5 Laws noted. “We had to squeeze down and contest shots which is what Coach Perry tells us to do.”
Freshman guard DeShawn Troutman provided the Hornets with their best offensive spark in the game with some key baskets and the teams only three pointer, finishing with 13. But overall it was a frustrating night for Salisbury as they could not solve the Cougar zone.
“I could name three things right now that are keeping us from becoming a good, solid basketball team, “ a solemn Hornet Coach Jason Causby stated, “but that is between me and the team...what you saw tonight is a mirror image of what I see everyday with this team. I wasn’t happy with it.”
Guard Tre Williams led the balanced Cougar attack with 11 points and 8 rebounds while Laws and McCain had nine each. .Troutman was the only Hornet in double figures while freshman forward Donnell Alexander chipped in seven.
It was the second win this season for Carson over the Hornets. Both teams are now off until next week’s Moir Christmas tourney.
SALISBURY (43) — Troutman 13, Alexander 7, Usry 5, Fazia 5, T. Petty 4, Hillie 4 J. Petty 4, Adams 1, Brown .
CARSON (55) — Williams 11, McCain 9, Laws 9, Raper 8, Love 8, Stout 4, Hower 3, Howard 3.
Salisbury 8 9 14 12 — 43
Carson 12 9 20 14 — 51