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Cougar boys miss chances

By Bill Kiser

Salisbury Post

CHINA GROVE — Carson boys basketball coach Brian Perry is very emphatic about his players’ feelings right now — they don’t like losing.

That was especially true after the Cougars came within seconds of winning their first-ever North Piedmont Conference game on Wednesday night.

Lamario Johnson hit a layup with 11 seconds left to put Mooresville back in the lead, and Carson missed two last-gasp shots in a 46-45 loss to the Blue Devils.

Johnson finished with 18 points for Mooresville (7-9, 3-3).

Brandon Ferguson scored 19 points and Darius Moose added 18 points — one off his season high — for the Cougars (1-14, 0-6), who came the closest to getting Win No. 2 since falling to South Rowan 51-49 in a consolation game at the Sam Moir Classic on Dec. 29.

Yet coming close isn’t making Perry or his players very happy right now, and the loss didn’t help their mood afterward.

“We want to win, but we’ve got to take that final step, man,” Perry said. “Right now, we’re not doing the things at the end of the game — and sometimes during the game — that it takes to win. Until we start doing the little things, every time and on every possession, we’re going to keep having this feeling in our gut after every game.”

However, there were things that made Perry happy, especially in the fourth quarter as Carson overcame an early five-point deficit to tie the game once and swap the lead eight times. In all, the two teams saw the lead change hands 18 times, with four ties.

“We probably didn’t deserve this win — Carson outplayed us, but we stepped up when we needed to step up,” said Mooresville coach Michael Micklow. “That’s what I’m looking for after coming off a tough loss, that guys find a way to win. That’s what we needed to do.”

The Blue Devils led

35-30 and were up 44-43 in the final minute.

Moose pulled in a full-court pass from Brandon Ferrare — who had stripped a Blue Devils player of the ball under the MHS basket — for a layup with 28 seconds remaining to put the Cougars up 45-44.

After Johnson drove the baseline for his game-winning layup — his only points of the fourth quarter — Carson had two shots to win the game. But Ferguson missed an off-balance 10-footer, and Dustin Craft’s putback from eight feet bounced off the rim.

“I thought we had a decent look at the basket,” Perry said.

“But we’re tired of losing. We’ve learned, we’ve taken our lumps, we’ve come close and we’ve been in a lot of similar situations. But it’s time for this team to take that final step. These kids are going to be winners, but we have to take that last final leap.”

Mooresville (46) — Johnson 18, Leach 6, Henley 5, Mercer 4, Huntley 4, Sutter 4, Patterson 3, Millsaps 2, Parker, Maynard, Smith, Mayes.

Carson (45) — Ferguson 19, Moose 18, Ferrare 2, Hutchinson 2, Fontenot 2, Craft 2, Yates, Kosinski, Freeze, Smalls..

Mooresville 12 9 13 12 — 46

Carson 9 10 11 15 — 45

Contact Bill Kiser at sports@salisburypost.com.

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