West Rowan edges Carson on senior night
MOUNT ULLA — Carson’s Tre Williams tried to earn a whistle on his team’s final possession, but as he went sprawling to the floor amid three West Rowan Falcons with one second left on the clock, he heard only silence.
Moments later, the West gym erupted with deafening noise as a Senior Night crowd celebrated a 65-63 victory against NPC rival Carson.
West (10-12, 8-3) has no center — only small forwards, shooting guards, a tight end and an offensive lineman, but it’s now tied with the Cougars (14-9, 8-3) for second place.
The tight end, Jack Gallagher, went 0-for-1 from the field, but a giant likeness of his head, held aloft by West’s student section, provided inspiration. He’s West’s only senior.
The O-lineman, Chris Hassard, made the pivotal plays at both ends of the court, taking a hotly disputed charge with 45 seconds left and making the decisive layup with 6 seconds left.
“Just a lucky bounce that that ball ended up in my hands,” Hassard said. “I pumped fake before I shot because I thought I was going to get fouled. But then I made the shot.”
At one point, West was 1-8 and receiving sympathy cards, but the Falcons have made a closing run true to the school’s hoops tradition. They took another giant step in beating Carson. They lost to the Cougars 63-60 in China Grove.
“Carson is very good, talented and experienced, but we’re starting to get experience,” West coach Mike Gurley said. “We’ve had our chances late in games against the elite NPC teams (Statesville and Carson) before, but the other team has made the plays. Tonight, for the first time, making plays late equated to a win for us.”
Williams scored 22 for the Cougars. Colton Laws (6-foot-6) had 14 rebounds but was limited to 11 points. Myquon Stout took charges, ate glass and even scored 11 points. Andrew Hower contributed three 3s.
Seth Martin (19), Daisean Reddick (15) and Devin Parks (14) countered with big offensive nights for the Falcons.
“We played great as a team,” said sophomore Celexus Long. “I couldn’t get the shots to fall tonight, but Seth, Devin and Daisean were all scoring.”
Carson dominated early, jumping out 9-0 and still leading 17-9 after a quarter.
“But I felt like we were taking good 3-point shots,” Gurley said. “And if we kept taking those shots, we’d be OK.”
Then Martin got scorching hot. He was 4-for-4 in the second quarter with three 3s. The Falcons climbed on his back, and he carried them to a 35-all tie at halftime.
Neither team shot well in the third quarter, but when Long finally drilled his first shot — a jumper with 2:33 left in the period — you could see confidence building in the Falcons.
The fourth quarter was a dogfight. Long’s 3-pointer as the clock went under two minutes tied the game at 61-all.
“We had plenty of opportunities to get stops, but we had mixups,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “One or two more stops, and we win, but they made the plays and we didn’t. “
Williams, who has taken over fourth quarters lately, steamed in for a go-ahead bucket, but Parks hit two free throws for 63-63 with 1:20 left.
Carson’s next possession was pivotal. Marquez McCain flew to the hoop for a potential and-one with 45 seconds left, but there was Hassard, standing his ground, and McCain was called for a charge.
“He was going so fast, but I was already standing underneath waiting, and then I just fell down,” Hassard said.
Not long after that, it was Hassard once again — sticking in that winning layup.
“We played hard in the stretch and it fell our way,” Parks said. “Hassard made the biggest shot of the year.”
CARSON (63) — Williams 22, Laws 11, Stout 11, Hower 9, Love 5, McCain 2, Howard 2, Raper 1.
WEST ROWAN (65) — Martin 19, Reddick 15, Parks 14, Long 8, Hassard 6, Gabriel 3, Tucker, Gallagher, Blackwood, Phillips, Morrison.
Carson 17 18 10 18 — 63W. Rowan 9 26 12 18 — 65