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By Ronnie Gallagher
Salisbury Post
LEXINGTON ? Salisbury boys basketball coach Jason Causby was wondering how his team would react at Central Davidson on Tuesday night.
The Hornets were coming off an exhausting double-overtime loss to East Rowan in the Sam Moir Christmas Classic final on Friday night and were playing a Spartan team that was very-much improved from last season.
?We came out knowing we couldn?t play any less than we did in the Christmas tournament,? guard Ibn Ali said. ?We wanted to keep our intensity. Coach said we can get down or we can play better. We chose to play better.?
Central (7-4, 0-2 CCC) has turned it around with defense, but in a 64-38 loss to Salisbury, Spartan coach Brian Hege realized there is no defense for players who can sky to the rafters.
?We just couldn?t outjump them,? Hege lamented afterward. ?Sometimes, we did box them out and they jumped over us and got it. Not much you can do about that.?
Nick White, Joe Allen and Jacob Phifer were playing a tip drill most of the first half. At one point in the second quarter, Allen grabbed a rebound and fired downcourt to a streaking White for a layup and eventual three-point play. When Phifer soared in for a layup seconds later, Salisbury had stunned the Spartans with a 35-8 lead.
?We had the advantage on the boards,? Causby said. ?Our length definitely showed.?
Salisbury (7-5, 2-1) started pulling away quickly. Ali hit a 3 and Brandon Abel a layup for a 9-2 lead. Phifer?s free throws had it up to 16-3, and Zac Rose?s jumper made it 25-5 after one quarter.
Central?s burly Matt Tysinger hit a couple of 3s, but the Spartans never scored on consecutive possessions.
?We?re having trouble scoring right now,? Hege shrugged. ?Don?t ask me why.?
Thaddeus Williams? layup put Salisbury ahead 39-13 at halftime and had Hege doing some soul-searching.
?I think we came out a little lethargic,? he said. ?In the second half, we came out with intensity and did what we do best ? play defense. They accepted my challenge.?
In fact, Central matched Salisbury?s second-half output of 25, but it was far too late.
?I felt Central would be a player for the conference championship,? Causby said, ?and definitely for one of the four playoff spots. We wanted to distance ourselves from these guys.?
Salisbury (64) ? Allen 11, Campbell 9, Phifer 8, Ali 8, White 7, Abel 6, Allison 6, Williams 3, Duke 3, Rose 2, Gibbs 1, Almond, Handy.central davidson (38) ? Tysinger 8, Frazier 7, Renas 6, Frank 4, Lanham 4, Davis 3, Hedrick 3, Kepley 2, Pickett 1, Rivas.Salisbury 25 14 10 15 ? 64
C. Davidson 5 8 8 17 ? 38
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Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com.

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