Prep Basketball: East Rowan boys 74, Carson 55

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 23, 2006

By David Shaw

Salisbury Post

GRANITE QUARRY — Someone must have set East Rowan’s internal alarm clock for the four-minute mark of the first quarter.

That’s when the Mustangs woke up Friday night against visiting Carson.

“We came out very, very flat,” guard Justin Vanderford said. “We were not ready to play.”

East recovered to earn a 74-55 victory, improving to 7-1 in non-league play with its second win over the Cougars (0-6) this month. But after posting draining wins over West Rowan and Salisbury earlier in the week, it was hard to fault ER for over-sleeping.

“Here’s how kids think,” coach Greg McKenzie said after East rallied from an 11-3 first-quarter deficit. “Kids think if you beat somebody the first time, you’re automatically going to do it again the second time. They forget that they had to play hard to beat them the first time.”

That’s one way of looking at it. Here’s another: Carson got glow-in-the-dark hot for a few minutes and put a real-life scare into the Mustangs.

“They pressed us, and we were able to get the ball in the middle,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “That was a good way to start. But they’re too good a team. They’re too veteran. I don’t think we scared them, but they figured out we were going to compete a little harder.”

Carson received a game-high 27 points from sophomore Brandon Ferguson, who made five 3-pointers and boosted his county-best scoring average to 23.0 points-per-game.

“He’s a shooter,” East swingman Kenan McKenzie said after tallying 16 points. “He doesn’t take too many bad shots, doesn’t try to do too much. He’s patient.”

It was Ferguson and teammate Dylan Kosinski (two 3-pointers) who fueled Carson’s early charge. The Cougars still led 15-13 after Darius Moose grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a putback with 2:16 remaining in the first quarter.

“Coach always tells us not to worry about the first four minutes,” said Vanderford, who netted 25 points despite sitting out most of the fourth quarter. “It’s the last eight that matter most.”

Actually, East turned this game around in the second quarter, then turned it into a round of batting practice in the third. McKenzie buried three of his four long balls in the third, when East converted six shots from beyond the arc and led by as much as 28 points.

“I know at halftime, we thought it was a little too close for comfort,” Kenan McKenzie said. “We were mad. We knew we had to pick it up.”

East finished with 11

3-pointers — including four by Vanderford, two by Jacob Wilhelm and another by Shawn Eagle.

“They obviously can get hot, get on a roll and start hitting 3s,” Perry said. “That’s what they do.”

Ferguson kept Carson in contention by scoring 11 fourth-quarter points, but his last basket — a bomb from the right corner — came with 5:26 to play.

“Whenever they went into a zone I got some good looks and got some good shots off,” he said. “I’m more happy that we’re coming out of our funk. We’re getting there.”

Added Perry: “Brandon definitely can shoot. But he’s gotta know the defense is going to get better and better the more people read about him in the paper.”

Carson (55) — Ferguson 27, Kraft 8, Moose 7, Kosinski 6, Fontenot 3, Johnson 2, Ferrare 1, Hutchinson 1, Adams, Smalls, Yates, Freeze, Horne.

East rowan (74) — Vanderford 25, McKenzie 16, Wilhelm 6, Davis 5, Eagle 5, Holmes 5, Karl 4, Baker 3, Wilson 3, Misenheimer 2, Ponds.

Carson 15 9 13 18 — 55

E. Rowan 20 15 29 10 — 74

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Contact David Shaw at dshaw@salisburypost.com.

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