Prep hoops: West Iredell boys 54, Carson 51

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 2, 2008

By David Shaw
CHINA GROVE ó File Carson’s NPC opener in the “Missed Opportunities” folder.The Cougars had a fourth-quarter lead but couldn’t provide a knockout punch in a 54-51 loss to visiting West Iredell on Tuesday night.
“We’re disappointed,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “We came in anticipating a win, but we let it get away from us.”
Carson (1-2, 0-1) led by eight points late in the first half and owned a 45-42 advantage after sophomore Cody Clanton scored on a fastbreak layup with 3:25 remaining. But it all went for naught when West Iredell’s Quan Rucker drove for a three-point play to close the scoring with four seconds to go.
“We played solid defense and got a lot of stops,” Carson’s Darius Moose said after contributing 21 points and 10 rebounds. “But we’ve got to work harder at pulling it off at the end. We’ve got to get better at that.”
Moose, a 6-foot-3 junior, was the best player on the floor in the first half.
He muscled his way for back-to-back layups to give the Cougars an early 16-8 edge. He later nailed a short jumper to make it 25-19 with 1:42 left in the first half.
“Moose is a great offensive player and a great defensive player,” West Iredell coach Brian Cantrell said. “He played a solid game.”
Moose opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer from the right side, but Carson couldn’t contain the Warriors. They used a 9-1 run in the fourth period to build just a 51-46 lead. Carson roared back to tie the score when Devon Heggins converted both ends of a one-and-one with 56 seconds remaining and Clanton drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 15 seconds left.
“I just remember Nick Houston driving,” he said. “So I slid up with him to get open, got the pass and knocked it down. He made a smart pass.”
West Iredell then spent a timeout.
“Some coaches would set something up,” Cantrell said. “We decided to give the ball to Quan and let him go play.”
Rucker entered the lane and was met by Moose, who was called for a blocking foul as an off-balance layup circled through the rim.
“I felt like I was there, in position,” Moose said. “But that’s a referee’s decision.”
Perry was pleased that Moose tried to draw a charge.
“It was close,” Perry said. “That block could have gone either way. Last year he would have never stepped in and taken a charge. But he’s already done it several times this year. He’s getting after it.”It was enough to send the Warriors home knowing they’d been in a fight.
“That was just knock-out, drag-out, get-in-your-face basketball,” Cantrell said. “Fortunately our shots went down in the end, and that settled it. We’re smiling.”
So was Perry, but his grin may have been masking a bit of pain.
“Regardless of the last call, I was proud of our effort,” he said.
NOTES: Rucker scored eight of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. … Carson’s Brandon Ferrare was credited with two points in the third quarter despite being whistled for an offensive foul. The officials later apologized to both coaches for missing the call.WEST IREDELL (54) ó Q.Rucker 21, Clyburn 10, Stevenson 7, D.Gray 5, Smyre 5, K.Gray 4, Harris 2.
CARSON (51) ó Moose 21, Clanton 11, Doby 5, Houston 5, Ferrare 5, Heggins 4, Sewell, Begic, Britt, Walser.
W. Iredell 10 14 14 16 ó 54
Carson 16 11 12 12 ó 51