Prep Basketball: Salisbury boys 48, Ledford 47
By Bret Strelow
WALLBURG — Salisbury coach Jason Causby preached patience.
The Hornets were in no hurry against a deliberate Ledford team even though they were looking to capture an outright conference title for the first time since 1992.
Senior guard Doug Campbell scored a team-high 15 points, including four free throws in the final 80 seconds, and made a critical steal to lead visiting Salisbury to a 48-47 win against the second-place Panthers.
The Hornets (14-9, 9-2) lead the CCC by two games and have only one regular-season contest remaining. Their last outright title came when Bobby Jackson, then a senior, led Salisbury to a 16-0 record in the SPC.
“It’s like what your mama always tells you,” Causby said. “If it’s too easy, it’s probably too good to be true. If it’s not hard to earn it, maybe it’s not worth earning.
“We knew it was going to be a tough night — Ledford’s a great team, and their coach is a phenomenal coach who does a great job. We knew we were going to have to be patient and knew they were going to dictate flow.”
Salisbury led 48-43 before Ledford’s Ryan Fitzgerald made two free throws with 11.2 seconds left. J.B. McDowell chased down an errant inbounds pass, and the Panthers (11-12, 7-4) called timeout at midcourt with 6.9 seconds left.
Campbell deflected a pass out of bounds with 5.4 seconds remaining, and Jake Dykhoff forced up a contested 3-pointer from the left wing as he lost his footing. His shot bounced off the back of the rim, and Jesse Aldridge scored on a meaningless tip-in at the buzzer.
Salisbury earned a share of the conference title in 2004, Campbell’s freshman campaign. He didn’t score in three varsity appearances that season and averaged 12.4 points for the 2005 squad that tied for first in the CCC.
The Hornets finished in a tie for second last season but bounced back with a third title for Campbell and the second for experienced juniors Ibn Ali, Zac Rose and Jesse Gibbs.
“We knew we had to take care of business if we wanted to make history tonight,” Campbell said.
The Hornets had scored at least 61 points in 11 of their first 13 wins. A 59-51 decision against Ledford earlier in the season was one of two victories in which they failed to reach 60.
Salisbury trailed 21-13 on Friday before it went on a 10-0 run during the final 3:22 of the second quarter. The Panthers entered the fourth quarter with a 39-35 lead, but Salisbury scored the next seven points.
Brandon Abel’s deflection led to a fastbreak opportunity, and a three-point play from Campbell gave the Hornets a 42-39 edge with 4:38 left.
Ledford committed turnovers on its next two trips, and its first points of the quarter came on two free throws with 3:32 remaining. It still hadn’t logged an official field-goal attempt in the quarter.
“For some reason, we lost a little bit of our discipline,” Ledford coach Scott Dalton said.
Salisbury ate up more than two minutes on its next possession, which ended with two Campbell free throws that provided a 44-41 lead with 1:20 left.
Fitzgerald scored with 56 seconds left on Ledford’s first official shot of the quarter, and the Panthers regained possession after a missed front end of a one-and-one.
Tyler Walser caught an inbounds pass near midcourt after a timeout, but Campbell poked the ball away from behind and came up with the steal. He fed Ali for a layup with 41 seconds left and added two free throws for a 48-43 lead with 23 seconds remaining.
“This is the most comfortable I’ve seen Doug play since probably late in his sophomore year,” Causby said, “and he was really, really good for us on a team that was really good.”
This team’s not too shabby, either.
The Hornets can claim first all to themselves.
NOTES: Salisbury’s Joe Allen had 11 points. … Jacob Phifer threw home a fastbreak dunk after a steal. … Ledford leads Lexington and North Rowan by a half-game.
SALISBURY (48) — Campbell 15, Allen 11, Phifer 8, Williams 6, Ali 6, Abel 2, White, Rose.
LEDFORD (47) — Fitzgerald 18, Walser 10, Aldridge 6, Dykhoff 6, McDowell 5, Worley 2, Sparrow.
Salisbury 10 13 12 13 — 48
Ledford 16 5 18 8 — 47
Contact Bret Strelow at email@example.com.