Prep Basketball: Lexington sweeps Salisbury
By Mike Duprez
LEXINGTON — Lexington couldn’t guard Salisbury’s Buster Hillie all night but with the game on the line the Yellow Jackets got a chance to turn the tables.
As the final seconds ticked down, 6-foot Lexington forward Nolan Benson posted up the 5-7 Hillie and hit a short jumper with less than a second to go as the Jackets pulled out a wild 66-64 victory in their Central Carolina Conference matchup on Tuesday.
Salisbury had tied the game at 64-64 on a pair of Tyler Petty free throws with 27.3 seconds left and then Hornets coach Jason Causby called timeout to set his defense.
There was no doubt as to what Lexington was going to do, especially given that Benson, who scored 23 points, was winning the battle in the paint all night.
“Oh yes sir, that was the plan,” Benson said. “I was going to go high post and Kris Bradley was going low post.”
The Hornets got caught in a switch and the Jackets were ready.
“I was telling them, ‘get the ball to Nolan, get the ball to Nolan!,’ “ said Lexington coach Robert Hairston.
Keion Adams and the 6-7 Petty tried to help but Benson eluded them, backed Hillie in and hit a soft turnaround jumper for the win.
“We got in a terrible matchup,” Causby said. “We had the wrong guy guarding him. We had a 3 on him and that’s not supposed to happen. We’re eat up with bad luck right now. Buster’s a good defender but not against a post player.”
Needless to say, it worked out great for Benson and Lexington in a game in which the largest lead was six points.
“He got in the right spot,” Hairston said. “He wants it. He’s hungry. That’s a good thing for him. He want the chance to handle the pressure.”
It might have been a good thing for Lexington that Salisbury had no time left to run back down the court given the way Hillie, who had 21 points kept beating Jacket defenders off the dribble.
“We’ve got some things to work on,” Hairston said. “We can learn from that.”
Mel Covington had 15 points and Coleman Hayes 10 for Lexington, which improved to 3-0 in the CCC and 6-9 overall. Lexington is tied with Central Davidson for first place in the conference.
Salisbury, which got nine points each from Petty and Adams, fell to 0-3 in the CCC and 4-11 overall.
Lexington took its biggest lead at 49-43 in the first minute of the fourth quarter when Benson finished with a fastbreak with a dunk as Lexington fans roared their approval.
Benson had a chance for a second crowd-pleaser but missed the dunk. Hayes was there for the putback and a 56-53 lead with 3:18 left but an irate Hairston called a timeout.
“He told me to take it in like a man and I wouldn’t miss it,” Benson said. “Don’t go in soft.”
Causby had a different take on it.
“We couldn’t limit them to one shot,” he said. “They kept getting second chances.”
Moments later, Hillie knifed through the Lexington defense yet again for a reverse layup, tying the game at 56-56 and setting up an exciting finish.
Lexington big girls Jasmine Carter and Alexis Fowler kept battling even as Brielle Blair and Salisbury continued to hang around.
But, the Hornets broke.
Carter poured in 25 points and Fowler had 16 as Lexington pulled away in the fourth quarter and registered a 66-56 victory in their Central Carolina Conference clash Tuesday night.
“We talk about fighting adversity, getting through it,” said Lexington coach Lamont Johnson. “Sometimes we get a lead and blow it. Tonight, we didn’t quit.”
Lexington, 8-7 overall, now find themselves in a four-way tie for first in the CCC at 2-1.
The 6-3 Blair led Salisbury, 7-8 overall and 1-2 in the CCC, with 23 points while Nyasia Harris had 11 and Dateria Conner 10.
Emerson Hayes added 11 points for Lexington and Karrigan Ellison scored all nine of her points in the second half.
Lexington had taken the lead for good at 31-29 on a Carter layup.
But it started to break Lexington’s way when Carter, with the ball at the top of the circle, pump-faked Blair, drove to the basket for a layup, got fouled and made the free throw for a 51-44 lead. And the dagger came when Ellison buried a 3-pointer for a 57-48 lead with 3:20 left. Lexington led by as much as 13 in the closing minutes.
SALISBURY (64) — Hillie 21, T. Petty 9, Adams 9, J. Petty 7, Usry 6, Alexnader 5, Troutman 3, Fazia 2, Burgess 2.
LEXINGTON (66) — Benson 23, Covington 15, C. Hayes 10, Bradley 9, Byrd 3, Holmes 2, White 2, Bennett 2.
Salisbury 17 10 15 22 — 64
Lexington 14 14 17 21 — 66
SALISBURY (56) — B. Blaire 21, Harris 11, Connor 10, A. Blaire 5, Lattimore 5, Usry 2, Caldwell 2.
LEXINGTON (66) — Carter 25, Fowler 16, E. Hayes 11, Ellison 9, Saners 2, Ausborne 2, Wall 1.
Salisbury 16 13 15 12 — 56
Lexington 16 13 19 18 — 66