Martin, Tucker lead West boys at Carson
CHINA GROVE — Daisean Reddick had a chance to put up a layup, but he heard Seth Martin yelling, and an unselfish Reddick whipped the ball all the way back out to Martin, who had his right arm cocked on the left wing behind the 3-point line.
Reddick’s confidence was justified. Martin buried the shot, one of his six 3-pointers in Friday’s SPC struggle.
“Daisean is so quick that you never really know what’s going to happen when he’s got the ball,” Martin said. “I was just yelling, hoping he saw me. He did, and I had a wide-open shot.”
That shot was the hardest blow in a decisive third-quarter run by the Falcons, and they beat Carson — at Carson — 65-57.
“That’s what hurts a little bit,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “The opportunities were there for us to win a game between two good teams, but we didn’t get it done, so we take a tough loss at home. But maybe we can get a road win somewhere to make up for it.”
Tre Williams scored 18 for the Cougars (4-2, 2-1) — 15 in the second half.
Martin led the Falcons (5-2, 3-0) with 21 points, but Najee Tucker’s stat-sheet stuffing was equally important. Tucker’s nine points didn’t really tell his story. He also had nine rebounds, blocked four shots and took four charges.
“Najee has accepted who he is, and that’s why he’s a very productive player,” West coach Mike Gurley said. “He’s a rebounder, a defender and a slasher, and he plays to win.”
When West plays Carson, Tucker, who is 6-foot-2, usually has the defensive assignment against Colton Laws, who is close to 6-8. That’s a tall order, no pun intended, and Tucker held Laws to 13, a number West could live with.
“We knew coming into the game that this game was mostly going to be about defense for us,” Tucker said. “Carson is good, so we knew they’d make runs. Coach told us that when they made those runs, he wasn’t going to call timeouts. He told us we’re an experienced team, and we had to be men and fight.”
It was a manly game. There weren’t many free paths to the hoop. Someone always stepped in and tried to take a charge.
West missed 15 of its first 16 shots against a 2-3 zone to dig a 13-3 hole, but Gurley said the start wasn’t all that awful.
“Nothing was going in, but we were actually doing OK,” Gurley said. “We were getting the ball where we wanted it go, so we just had to play defense.”
West’s shots started to fall, and when Martin nailed a long 3 to end the first half, West took a 33-28 lead to the break.
“Najee set the screen so I could get the ball, but then I saw Colton coming out on me,” Martin said. “ I had to make a spin and a dribble to my left just to get that shot off.”
Carson made a run in the third quarter to tie 34-all, but West answered with 11 straight to end the quarter. There was a bucket by Hassard, two scoops by Devin Parks, Martin’s 3 on the kickout by Reddick and two free throws by Celexus Long.
West was ahead to stay. Williams got Carson within three points at 46-43 with 5:16 left, but Tucker made the plays that allowed West to stay on top.
“We’re getting better at rebounding and better defensively,” Gurley said. “It was a solid win against a good team.”
W. ROWAN (65) — Martin 21, Parks 12, Tucker 9, Long 8, Reddick 7, Hassard 6, Weeks 2, Phillips, Joseph.
CARSON (57) — Williams 18, Laws 13, McCain 8, Stout 8, Rucker 5, Raper 3, Hower 2, Isom.
W. Rowan 7 21 17 20 — 65
Carson 15 8 11 23 — 57