By Bill Kiser
CHINA GROVE ? Carson?s girls basketball team thought it had a good chance of winning its first-ever game Wednesday against Mooresville.
However, the Blue Devils ? who have their own problems with winning and losing ? had another plan.
The Cougars? shot at their first win in school history was thwarted when Cami Delaughter hit a jumper with six seconds left, lifting Mooresville to a 34-33 road victory.
Mackenzie White scored a game-high 14 points for Carson (0-14, 0-6), which came the closest to snapping its season-long losing streak since a 12-point loss to West Iredell before the Christmas break.
Kelly Butler and Alexa Martin had 10 points each for the Blue Devils (2-14, 1-5), who won their first North Piedmont Conference game and snapped a three-game losing streak.
Delaughter?s 15-footer capped a furious, if ugly, game between the two cellar dwellers in the North Piedmont Conference standings.
The two teams combined to turn the ball over 55 times, and had trouble putting the ball in the basket both from the field and the free throw line.
The Blue Devils shot just 27.4 percent from the field and 23.5 percent from the line (4-of-17). But Carson didn?t fare much better, hitting 31.1 percent of its field goal attempts and 38.5 percent of its free throws.
However, the Cougars and Mooresville also combined to swap the lead 16 times ? 11 times in the second half, and six times in the fourth quarter alone ? and tie the score five times.
?We had played better against West (Rowan last Friday) and much better against Northwest Cabarrus on Monday, so I felt we were where we needed to be coming into this game,? Carson head coach Brooke Misenheimer said. ?I thought we matched up very well against them.?
But the Cougars turned the ball over 18 times in the first half, while the Blue Devils shot just 14.3 percent from the field as Carson led 10-7 after the first quarter and 13-10 at the halftime break.
?It was ugly, very ugly,? Misenheimer said. ?We turned the ball over, and they weren?t making their shots.?
Neither side led by more than three points in the second half. Mooresville took its biggest lead early in the third quarter, going up 16-13 with 4:53 left.
But the Cougars fought back to trail 22-21 at the end of the quarter, and moved ahead 31-28 on a 3-point play by Charlena Lynn with 2:21 remaining in the game.
That?s when things got interesting.
Delaughter’s jumper seven seconds later cut Carson’s lead to one point, and Martin shoved the Blue Devils ahead 32-31 on layup with 42 seconds left.
White?s lone basket of the quarter ? a short jumper with 25 seconds remaining ? put the Cougars back in front, but a defensive breakdown gave Delaughter an open look at the basket as time wound down.
?Earlier in the year, when we got behind in the third and fourth quarters, we?d let a game like this get away from us,? Mooresville coach Preston Harris said. ?But our girls have learned to battle back, and the girls from Carson are learning that too. A lot of mistakes were made on both sides, but both sides battled hard to win this game.?
Small consolation for Carson, which may not get a chance to win a game until it faces the Blue Devils again on Jan. 30 in Mooresville.
?I hate it for these kids, because I know they want their first win,? Misenheimer said. ?I know they want it, but we came up short. We?re going to have to keep working on our game.?
mooresville (34) ? Butler 10, Martin 10, DeLaughter 8, Howard 4, Sturdivant 2, Harris, Powell.
Carson (33) ? White 14, Lynn 6, Marshall 4, Howell 3, Bell 2, Cress 2, Whitley 2, Hough, Brown, Curtindale, Stewart.
Mooresville 7 3 12 12 ? 34
Carson 10 3 8 12 ? 33
Contact Bill Kiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.