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Prep Basketball: Salisbury boys 77, West Davidson 55

By Bret Strelow
bstrelow@salisburypost.com
West Davidson’s boys nearly pulled off a stunning upset in their first trip to Salisbury.
The top-seeded and now top-ranked Hornets, with help from two jayvee call-ups who didn’t play in the early January nail-biter, pulled away for a 77-55 win against eighth-seeded West in a CCC tournament opener Monday.
Darien Rankin (17 points, six rebounds) and Brandon Abel (16 points, six boards) led the way as Salisbury, which has moved up to No. 1 in the latest 2A poll, advanced to a semifinal matchup with East Davidson on Wednesday.
Sophomore guard Forrest Wilkins had 12 points on four first-half 3-pointers, and freshman Dejoun Jones contributed to a third-quarter run that gave the Hornets (24-1) their first 20-point lead.
“Opening-round games, I always feel more relieved after they’re behind us than we had some terrific accomplishment,” Salisbury coach Jason Causby said. “West Davidson, their record in the conference doesn’t reflect how solid of a team they are.
“They played us to a three-point game earlier in the year, and in my opinion that’s the only game out of the 25 we’ve played now that I thought we were outplayed from start to finish. We still somehow won, but they outplayed us by far.”
West Davidson trailed 25-20 two minutes into the second quarter and 45-35 at halftime.
Rankin, who scored seven of Salisbury’s first nine points, and Abel encountered foul trouble in the third quarter. They both went to the bench with the Hornets holding a 12-point lead, and Jones entered the game for the first time shortly thereafter.
A lineup of Jones, Thaddeus Williams, John Knox, Romar Morris and Alex Weant scored eight straight points to create a comfortable working margin.Jones scored three of his five points during that run, and a charging call wiped out a layup he made in the final seconds of the third quarter.”He came in fresh,” Causby said. “He’s a freshman, and he knows he can play at this level. He came out with something to prove, and he’s always going to have energy.”
Jones and Wilkins were not members of the varsity team when Salisbury overcame an 11-point deficit in a 62-59 home win against West Davidson on Jan. 6.
Wilkins moved up permanently before a game against East Davidson in late January and scored 12 points against the Golden Eagles.
“I had every intention of bringing him back up at some point to give us that additional outside threat,” Causby said. “He knows his role, and he’s a good kid. To the outsider looking in I know it might look like a tough situation, but I don’t think he could feel any more at home than any of the other 13 we dressed tonight.”
Wilkins hit two 3-pointers in the final 1:05 of the first quarter Monday, and he made back-to-back 3s midway through the second period.
“Coach always tells me to be comfortable against a zone,” Wilkins said. “Spot up and shoot with confidence.”
Wilkins’ final jumper gave Salisbury an 11-point advantage, but West Davidson outscored the Hornets in the last four minutes of the half.
The Green Dragons (8-15) committed only three turnovers in the second quarter and went into the break with 13 field goals on 29 tries.
“We weren’t playing with any intensity on defense,” said Williams, who finished with seven assists, six steals, six rebounds and two points. “Second half, we came out and pressured the ball like we’re supposed to.”
Williams made a steal on the opening possession of the third quarter and pitched ahead to Rankin for a breakaway layup.
Abel scored three interior baskets before his foul total began to rise, and Knox drilled a 3-pointer to start the game-deciding run.
“Salisbury’s depth wore us down in the second half,” West Davidson coach Russ Snyder said. “They’re a really good team. They’ve got a lot of weapons. They shoot the ball from the outside and take the ball to the basket as good as anybody you’ll see.”
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NOTE: The remainder of the CCC tournament will be played at Central Davidson. Salisbury and fifth-seeded East Davidson (a 58-52 winner over Central) are scheduled to face off Wednesday at 6 p.m.
WEST DAVIDSON (55) ó Jarvis 14, Moore 11, King 11, Stephen 7, Cameron 6, Hamblin 4, Little 2, Baynard.
SALISBURY (77) ó Rankin 17, Abel 16, Wilkins 12, Morris 7, Phillips 7, Jones 5, Weant 4, Knox 3, Williams 2, Do 2, Wood 2, Almeida, Lingard, McCain.
W. Davidson 13 22 9 11 ó 55
Salisbury 20 25 16 16 ó 77

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