Moir Christmas Classic: Carson boys 46, East Rowan 36
SALISBURY — If anything, Tre Williams is a good listener.
For almost all of three quarters, the Carson guard threw the ball inside to his big guys, just as coach Brian Perry wanted because of a decided height advantage.
But it just wasn’t working. The inside players were a combined 7-of-22 and Carson was clinging to a precarious 29-25 lead in the final seconds of the third.
So Williams, who had taken just two shots to that point, decided it was his time. He launched a rainbow 3 that was the prettiest play in an otherwise ugly 46-36 Moir Christmas Classic opening win over the Mustangs on Thursday.
“I thought we had an advantage inside,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “We wanted Colton (Laws) to touch it. We wanted Rameiq (Howard) to touch it. We wanted Myquon (Stout) to touch it. Tre was going to listen to what we say. But he has to understand he has to involve himself.”
Williams realized enough was enough and proved why he is the leader of the Cougars.
“It got to the point where we weren’t finishing at the basket,” he said. “I was wide open — and a great shot is a wide open shot.”
Williams got another look to open the fourth period and drained his second 3 . When he drove for a bucket moments later, it was 39-28 and East just didn’t have the offense to get back in it.
“I didn’t think we were ready,” sighed East coach Trey Ledbetter, who saw it in his players’ eyes when they came out of the locker room. “We were sluggish. We didn’t have any energy.”
Carson didn’t either early on, and both coaches were visibly frustrated. Carson (6-5) led only 22-15 at the half, thanks to Laws, the only effective Cougar. He had eight first-half points.
“When you play East, you’re going to have to grind it out,” Perry said. “At halftime, we told them they had to grind it out for 16 minutes.”
East had its chances. Carson went cold after Williams gave it the 11-point lead, with Andrew Hower hitting the only other field goal for the Cougars.
Samuel Wyrick hit a step-back 3, and Josh Gobble drilled another. Gobble’s free throw brought the Mustangs (4-7) to within 41-36 with 1:46 left.
But while East went 3-of-6 from the foul line, Carson finished 5-of-6. D.J. Love hit one, then sophomore Jacob Raper calmly hit four straight.
“We were in it up until the final minute as ugly and as bad as we played,” Ledbetter said. “Defensively, we’re OK. Offensively, we have to learn to share the ball a little more. We just didn’t hit our point-blank shots, that’s what it comes down to.”
Both teams shot only 30 percent, but the Cougars made their shots count late.
“We’re happy to be in the semifinals,” Perry said.
NOTES: East’s leading scorer Donte Means had a strange first half. He had six steals and six turnovers. He finished 2-of-11 for six points ... The 6-foot-6 Laws matched Williams’ 12 points, while grabbing 14 rebounds and blocking three shots. ... Raper scored 10 for the Cougars ... Stout did not score, going 0-for-7, but grabbed 11 rebounds, seven off the offensive boards. ... Carson now meets No. 1 seed Davie tonight.
EAST ROWAN (36) — Se. Wyrick 8, Sa. Wyrick 8, Means 6, Gobble 4, L’Hommedieu 4, Edwards 2, Corpening 2, Bell 2, Hill, Wise, Brown.
CARSON (46) — Laws 12, Williams 12, Raper 10, Howard 4, McCain 4, Love 2, Hower 2, Stout, Parker.
E. Rowan 11 4 10 11 — 36
Carson 12 10 10 14 — 46