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Prep Basketball: A.L. Brown boys 64, Salisbury 60

By Mike London

Salisbury Post

Salisbury’s boys made a dozen runs, but A.L. Brown senior Josh Gray responded to each of them Friday and willed the Wonders to a roller-coaster 64-60 non-conference victory.

“Gray answered every run we made — personally,” Salisbury coach Jason Causby said.

On a night when none of his teammates scored more than seven points, Gray elevated his game and poured in a career-high 35, double his average.

“I felt in the zone, like there was nobody out there that could stop me,” Gray said.

Gray, who hit one early

3-pointer, shot 15-for-24 from the field and 4-for-4 for the free-throw line and placed his teammates on his shoulders in a frenzied third quarter by scoring 14 consecutive points.

Gray’s explosion offset balanced Salisbury scoring. Joe Allen (18 points), Jacob Phifer (17) and Doug Campbell (12) paced the Hornets (9-8).

Jacob Newman, who hit the deciding free throws, was the other hero for Brown (11-5).

With the score tied 60-60 and the Wonders holding for the last shot, Newman, who had scored only two points, wheeled to the basket from the high post with nine seconds left. Allen nearly tied up the sophomore, but a foul was whistled.

“I just felt like I could beat my man,” Newman explained.

“Jacob maybe went a little early,” Brown coach Shelwyn Klutz added. “But the good thing was he attacked the basket. Even if he misses, we have a chance for an offensive rebound.”

After a timeout, Newman swished a go-ahead free throw. After Causby called another timeout, Newman went back out and knocked down the second free throw for a 62-60 lead.

“Going to the line, all I was thinking about was all the free throws I’ve made in my life,” Newman said.

Salisbury still had plenty of time to tie or win with a 3, but the Hornets didn’t get a shot off. Brown’s Kenneth Yates intercepted the inbounds pass in the backcourt and fed Gray for a game-ending layup.

“We wanted to get the ball in the hands of (point guard) Thaddeus Williams, with Campbell as the trailer,” Causby said. “We wanted to drive it hard, then crash the boards, but the inbounds pass went a little wide.”

Brown took advantage of woeful Salisbury foul-shooting to grab an early eight-point lead, but a 12-0 second-quarter run by the Hornets — Campbell had eight of them — pushed Salisbury ahead 30-29 at the half.

Gray kept the Wonders afloat in the third quarter, and the fourth quarter rode a spectacular see-saw, with Wonders Jeremy Jones and Jonathan Efird delivering clutch 3s to fight off back-to-back 3s by Phifer.

Brown led 60-56 after a press-break pullup by Gray with 2:10 left, but Phifer found Allen alone inside, then connected on a terrific, off-balance drive to tie it one last time and set the stage for Newman.

“We felt good about Newman at the line,” Gray said. “He’s probably the best free-throw shooter on the team.”

Klutz called Allen and Campbell “exceptional players” and was pleased his team maintained its composure and won on the road.

It was the second straight draining loss for Causby’s Hornets.

“Winning would have been a great remedy for the disappointing loss at North Rowan, but there are still a lot more positives than negatives for us to take out of this,” Causby said. “We’re right there on the cusp of having something very special, and we have to remember that.”

A.L. Brown (64) — Gray 35, Davidson 7, McCauley 6, Newman 4, Efird 3, Jones 3, Simiton 4, Posey 2, Yates, Lott, Johnson.

Salisbury (60) — Allen 18, Phifer 17, Campbell 12, White 5, Abel 5, Williams 2, Rose 1, Ali, Duke.

A.L. Brown 17 12 16 19 — 64

Salisbury 10 20 16 14 — 60

*

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

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