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Moir Classic: Carson boys 57, North Rowan 52: Carson wins first game in school history

By Mike London

Salisbury Post

What do you call an orange-and-white Cougar who sets a gym on fire?

A Carsonist.

Carson sophomore Brandon Ferguson shot 1-for-7 from the floor in the first half of Thursday’s boys consolation game in the Sam Moir Christmas Classic, but he couldn’t miss in the second half, when he racked up 24 of his 26 points.

The first-year Cougars rode Ferguson’s smoking right hand and the inside play of poised freshman Darius Moose (19 points, 11 rebounds) to a stirring 57-52 comeback victory over North Rowan.

It was Carson’s first varsity basketball win and biggest athletic moment to date.

“It feels good, and I just feel great for our kids because they deserved this,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “They’ve kept working. They’ve put in the time to get better.”

Carson (1-9) came in seeded sixth because it had one fewer loss than the seventh-seeded Cavaliers (0-11).

The game lived up to the negative expectations early. Neither team scratched until North’s Spencer Sheets connected on a 3-pointer more than halfway through the first quarter to polite applause.

After the ice was broken, North started stroking. Derrick Burnett bombed four 3-pointers, Joe Kesler hit two, and the Cavaliers charged to a comfortable 28-14 halftime lead.

“Our zone was not very active, and North was hitting the open 3s,” Perry explained.

Carson had no choice but to switch to man-to-man defense in the second half against the quicker Cavaliers.

“You’d think that would play to our favor,” North coach Kelly Everhart said.

Instead, North quit scoring, and Ferguson went out of his mind. He hit five straight shots in the third quarter — three of them 3-pointers — as Carson chopped its deficit to 36-33.

“Coach got us fired up at halftime, and my jump shot just got on,” Ferguson said. “I caught fire and started shooting pretty good.”

After Ferguson swished his seventh straight field-goal attempt with four minutes left to play, the Cougars had forged a 45-45 tie.

Ferguson got the ball to Moose for the bucket that put the Cougars ahead to stay at 47-45 with 2:50 remaining.

North’s Daniel Griffith had a chance to complete a game-tying, three-point play with 30 seconds left, but he missed the free throw, leaving the Cavaliers behind 53-52. Moose got the rebound.

Perry called timeout with 21 seconds left to make absolutely sure the ball was in Ferguson’s hands down the stretch, and the Cougars executed better than when they let a chance for victory slip away against South Stanly.

Ferguson nailed two pressure-packed, one-and-one free throws for a three-point lead. After a North turnover, Ferguson knocked down two more to start the celebration.

Carson shot 71.4 percent in the second half and was also 9-for-11 from the line.

“They hit the big shots and made their free throws,” Everhart said. “I still feel confident we’ll turn the corner, but we’re having trouble finding that first victory.”

For Carson, the search is over.

North rowan (52) — Burnett 12, Griffith 11, Gaymon 9, Cherry 8, Sheets 6, Kesler 6, Walker, L. Smith, Lewallen, Hargrave.

carson (57) — Ferguson 26, Moose 19, Fontenot 4, Craft 2, Ferrare 2, Kosinski 2, Hutchinson 2, Freeze, Adams.

N. Rowan 6 22 8 16 — 52

Carson 6 8 19 24 — 57

*

Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or mlondon@salisburypost.com.

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