Prep hoops: Carson boys 75, East 59
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY ó The first playoff appearance by Carson appears to be just around the corner.
It was Darius Moose from the foul line and Nick Houston from the parking lot as Carson went on the road Monday and battered East Rowan 75-59.
Moose had 27 points and 15 rebounds for the Cougars. Houston, a sophomore, dropped in a career-best 25 points.
Josh Doby chipped in with a pair of 3-pointers. Feisty guards Brandon Ferrare and Derrick Sewell provided enough energy to light up Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
Prevailing in a must-win situation, Carson (11-12, 7-10) took charge of sixth place in the NPC, a 10-team league that receives six playoff berths.
“Regardless of the playoff situation, the big thing was we went into Granite Quarry, played very hard and played well,” ecstatic Carson coach Brian Perry said. “Everyone always wants to know, ‘Are you ready? Are you guys ready?’ Well, tonight we were ready to play from the start. When we do that, we usually do OK.”
The Cougars stunned the Mustangs with nine points in the opening minute and vaulted to a 14-0 lead.
They never looked back and handed Perry, one of the best players in East history, his first win in his old gym.
“We came out with intensity,” Moose said. “Never been to the playoffs and trying very hard to get there.”
East (7-14, 6-11) appears headed for a Friday play-in game that it must win to qualify for the eight-team NPC tournament. It got 22 points and seven rebounds from senior Daniel Plummer.
Jesse Slater, one of the East seniors honored in pregame ceremonies, enjoyed a terrific game with 10 points.
Riley Weber added seven boards, and Chris McKenzie had nine points. Brian Grohman, coming back from knee surgery, scored seven.
“It was great to see Jesse play so well, but we never made a serious run because we couldn’t stop Carson for very long,” East coach Greg McKenzie said. “Moose is a great player, but this is the first time he’s really hurt us bad. We tried to know where Moose was and where Doby was, but then No. 33 (Houston) just made everything.”
Houston didn’t hit them all, but he drilled big ones.
East, which trailed 36-27 at halftime, scrapped within 41-36 in the third quarter. Doby hit a 10-foot hanger and Houston drilled a 3-pointer to stop the rally.
Houston knocked down two more 3s before the quarter was over to push Carson’s lead back to double digits.
“It was one step forward and two steps back for us,” Greg McKenzie said. “We were steadily coming back there for a while, and I thought we were OK, but give Carson credit. That’s a very good offensive team.”
Especially when Houston is lighting it up and giving Moose scoring assistance.
Houston was scoreless in Carson’s brutal 78-33 loss to strong Lake Norman on Friday, but he made up for it.
“We practiced Saturday after that rough Lake Norman game, and what we talked about mostly was playing harder on defense,” Houston said. “That’s what we ended up doing, especially at the start of this game.”
Trailing 55-42 heading to the fourth quarter, East fouled early and often. Carson didn’t make a single field goal during the final eight minutes, but it went 20-for-27 from the line as the game threatened to drag into 2010. Moose was 11-for-15 on free throws in the fourth quarter and 17-for-23 on the night.
Carson shot 53 percent from the field, fed off the fire generated by a rabid student section and exited the East gym on top of the world.
“We crashed the boards hard and made the extra pass,” Perry said. “No one was playing for themselves tonight. Everyone was playing for Carson.”
CARSON (75) ó Moose 27, Houston 25, Doby 9, Ferrare 7, Sewell 4, Clanton 3, Begic.
EAST ROWAN (59) ó Plummer 22, Slater 10, McKenzie 9, Grohman 7, Weber 5, Allen 4, Mancil 2, Honeycutt, Torrence, Morton, Moore, Ajayi.
Carson 18 18 19 20 ó 75
East Rowan 11 16 15 17 ó 59
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