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Prep hoops: Salisbury boys 71, Statesville 65

By Bill Kiser

Salisbury Post

STATESVILLE — With his team down by nine points to Statesville at the end of the first quarter, Salisbury head coach Jason Causby could have really ripped into his players during the break.

Instead, he said just four words — “You figure it out.”

The Hornets’ seniors did the rest, leading Salisbury back from a listless start for a 71-65 victory over the winless Greyhounds on Wednesday night.

Doug Campbell scored a game-high 20 points to lead three other players in double figures for the Hornets (3-1), who suffered their first loss of the season 24 hours earlier to county rival West Rowan.

Sophomore Brandon Abel added 14 points, senior Joe Allen had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Jacob Phifer scored 10 points.

Myrec Rucker scored 16 points and Josh Byers and Aaron Knox added 10 points each for Statesville (0-6), which lost its seventh straight — two coming against Salisbury in a five-day span — dating back to last season.

Yet the Greyhounds didn’t look like a winless team in the opening quarter, forcing a sluggish Hornets team into nine turnovers in racing out to a 22-13 lead.

“I guess we had a hangover from last night,” Causby said, referring to Salisbury’s 67-60 loss to the Falcons on Tuesday. “We burned a lot of energy last night, and to come back and play a team that was fresh … they also had an upset in mind, and they came out and smacked us in the mouth.”

But Causby didn’t say much to his team during the break — not that he didn’t have anything on his mind.

“I just had to calm down because I really had nothing nice to say to them at the time,” Causby said. “I’ve learned through experience that that’s not the best time to speak to them.

“But the seniors — Doug Campbell and Joe Allen — were very vocal in the huddle, and they took that onto the court and began to physically lead by example, making plays and getting the job done.”

Said Campbell: “We’re basketball players, we should be able to pick (our intensity) up. I told the guys that last night’s game was over, that this was a new game. If we let last night’s game get to us, we were going to lose this one. We had to step up and play.”

Allen, who was held scoreless after picking up two quick fouls in the first quarter, scored seven points in the second period as the Hornets began clawing their way back.

However, it took a 8-0 run with less than two minutes left in the half to put Salisbury back in contention, with Jesse Gibbs’ layup with 52 seconds remaining giving the Hornets their first lead (39-37) since the opening minutes of the game.

Statesville tied the game at 41 at the half, setting off an exchange in the second half that saw the two teams swap the lead 10 times and tie the score three other times.

The Greyhounds last held the lead when Rucker hit a jumper to put them up 60-59 with 4:13 left in the fourth quarter.

But Abel hit a jumper 16 seconds later to put Salisbury back in front, igniting a 10-2 run that put the Hornets up 69-62 with 1:37 remaining, their biggest lead of the game.

“We had a game plan coming in, and we executed it down the stretch,” Causby said. “It was effective, it was just a matter of getting them motivated enough to do it. & quot;

Salisbury (71) — Campbell 20, Abel 14, Allen 13, Phifer 10, White 8, Allison 3, Gibbs 2, Rose 1, Duke, Gray, Handy.

statesville (65) — Rucker 16, Byers 10, Knox 10, Scott 9, Dawson 9, Epps 6, Sloan 3, Steele 2, Tomlin, Schofield, Clark.

Salisbury 13 28 15 15 — 71

Statesville 22 19 15 9 — 65

*

Contact Bill Kiser at 704-797-4287 or sports@salisburypost.com.

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