Prep Basketball: Salisbury boys 56, Ledford 45
By Bruce Wherle
WALLBURG ó WALLBURG óThe Salisbury boys suddenly found themselves slightly dis-Abeled just 61 seconds into their Central Carolina Conference game with Ledford Friday night.
Brandon Abel, the Hornets’ second-leading scorer, top rebounder and last season’s conference player of the year, aggravated his right ankle and sat out the remaining 31 minutes of the game with an ice park on his injury.
But after a period of adjustment, it hardly seemed to matter as the Hornets reinvented themselves in the second half to bounce the Panthers 56-45.
“It definitely required somebody else to step up,” said Salisbury coach Jason Causby, whose team is 12-0 in the CCC, 21-1 overall. “But one of the things that we talk about is that we’re a team, a consummate team, and on any given night we have one of two guys to carry the scoring load and look for that third or fourth complement and tonight, Dominique Phillips more than filled Brandon Abel’s role.”
Did he ever. Phillips scored 20 points while Darien Rankin added another 17 ó 11 in the final period ó to spark the Hornets.
When Abel limped off the court, two things happened immediately: Salisbury suddenly had a void, and Ledford suddenly had an opening.
It worked for a while, too, as the Panthers took a surprising 15-7 lead in the first period.
But even when the Hornets made their inevitable run to climb back into the game, the Panthers hug around like a bad cold. Consequently the score was tied 22-22 by halftime.
Even as late as the middle of the third period, the game was tied at 29-29.
Then Salisbury’s defense took over. The Hornets, turning to in-your-face pressure, forced the Panthers into six turnovers in the final three minutes of the quarter, and Salisbury was able to convert that into an 8-0 run and a 37-29 lead.
Ledford never recovered.
“Give credit to Salisbury,” said Ledford coach Scott Dalton. “Their press basically took its toll us.
“Salisbury did a great job tonight. This is probably the most complete Salisbury team that they’ve had since I’ve been here (six years). This group’s got it together.”
Causby, meanwhile, liked what he saw from Phillips.
“We don’t have any set plays for him,” said Causby. “All his points come in transition or on put-backs. He’s got to be the consummate garbageman. His points literally come off the second chance.”