Moir Christmas Classic: Salisbury boys 62, South Rowan 54
SALISBURY — Salisbury’s Jon Mark Petty jabbed the air like a boxer after his stickback for a three-point play with 1:34 remaining.
It was a knockout punch, as sixth-seeded Salisbury beat third-seeded South Rowan 62-54 in a first-round game in the Sam Moir Christmas Classic on Thursday.
“A lot of times offensive rebounds have been our best offense,” Salisbury coach Jason Causby said. “I was very disappointed with our effort on the glass in the first half, but we came on some in the second half.”
Starting with Buster Hillie’s 3-pointer that opened the third quarter, the second-half Hornets looked like only distant cousins to the Salisbury team that was on the floor in the first half at Goodman Gym.
In that struggling first half, Salisbury (4-5) not only shot 27 percent, it permitted a smaller South team to grab 11 offensive rebounds. South led 25-21 at halftime despite 29-percent shooting.
“We just weren’t active at all on the boards in the first half, and we can’t have that,” Causby said. “We’re not that good. If we are able to force a miss, we have to get the rebound.”
Tyler Petty wound up getting 10 rebounds for the Hornets, and they finished with a small edge on the glass.
“Except for Tvadis (Wesley), we’re just not strong enough,” said South coach Bryan Withers, who was coaching against the school at which he starred in the 1980s. “Salisbury was running right through our boxouts. We’ve got to do better.”
It was a well-matched game. At one point in the second half, turnovers, rebounds and the scoreboard were all dead-even.
Junior guard Shawn Spry had a terrific game that gave the Raiders (5-6) a chance to win. He scored 22 points, hit five 3-pointers and even grabbed six rebounds. It was a career high for Spry.
“Spry had a personal highlight reel going,” Causby said.
Hillie made three 3s in the third quarter, and that allowed the Hornets to take a 38-37 lead.
“We were getting the ball in the paint some, and that was helping our outside shooting,” Hillie said. “We’ve been working on our shooting, and today we shot with some confidence.”
South’s last lead came when Spry squirmed inside and muscled in a contested layup for a 44-43 advantage with six minutes left.
But when South failed to add to its lead, the Hornets took over. Freshman Donnell Alexander calmly buried a mid-range jumper for a lead change. After Keion Adams hit a jumper and Alexander knocked down a 3-pointer, the Hornets suddenly led by six.
“They hit huge outside shots,” Withers said. “We were going to make them make shots, and hats off to them. Their guys took them and they made them, and there were times when we didn’t even get a hand up.”
Jon Mark Petty’s three-point play pushed the lead to eight.
A pair of Eric Tyler free throws and a 3-pointer by Qwan Rhyne pulled South within 64-61 with 1:16 left, but Alexander and Adams, who scored a career-best 15, including a dunk, delivered clinching buckets.
“I’ve been slacking in my play, so I felt like I had a point to prove today,” Adams said. “In the second half, we boxed out, we executed, and we were more aggressive. It was a great team win.”
Nothing went right for South late. A Tyler 3-pointer that caromed high and came back through the cords was waved off, with officials apparently believing the ball had struck a support, and Christian Holbrook missed all of his free throws when he was fouled on a 3-point try.
SHS shot 56 percent in the second half, including 6-for-11 on 3s. — after going 0-for-7 on 3s in the opening 16 minutes.
“Everyone packs it in on us, and we’ve been walking in quicksand trying to force it inside.” Causby said. “If those 3-point shots are the shots we’re going to get — those are the shots we’ll take.”
SALISBURY (62) — Adams 15, Hillie 14, Alexander 11, T. Petty 7, Fazia 7, J. Petty 5, Troutman 3, Yang, Davis, Burges.
SOUTH ROWAN (54) — Spry 22, Rhyne 11, Wesley 6, Carter 6, Medlin 5, Tyler 2, Holbrook 2, Corriher, Hill, Goldston, Miller.
Salisbury 10 11 17 24 — 62
S. Rowan 10 15 12 17 — 54