CCC Boys Championship: Salisbury 58, Lexington 56
By Mike London
LEXINGTON ó Salisbury’s boys tested positive.
Positive for grit, perseverance and resilience in Friday’s 58-56 victory over Lexington.
The stat sheet said Salisbury had no business beating the Yellow Jackets for the CCC tournament championship, but the Hornets, ranked No. 1 in 2A, overcame 26 turnovers, a million missed boxouts and 9-for-21 foul shooting to produce their 26th straight victory.
Sometimes it’s all about finding a way.
The last step of the way against third-seeded Lexington (16-10) was a heart-stopping drive right down the lane by super sophomore Darien Rankin. His hanging layup beat high-flying freshman Quandarious Crump, who was actually whistled for a foul, and the buzzer.
“Every player we had on the floor at the end, I’ve had at least two years,” Salisbury coach Jason Causby said. “That’s a big advantage. The first option was (senior post) Brandon Abel, but they had him covered up. Second option was Darien, and we like our chances any time he attacks.”
Lexington had the ball late with the score tied but committed one of its 24 turnovers with 15 seconds left.
Causby called for a sprint by Rankin, who got the ball in the backcourt, drove 65 feet and had his shot smacked out of bounds and almost to Greensboro by a soaring Crump. Crump is so good he has his extra-long first name shaved into the back of his head so folks can spell it right.
There still were 10 seconds left.
“I just had to put the block out of my head and not get excited and not really even worry about the clock,” Rankin said. “We got the ball into Abel (who was triple-teamed). I was wide open and he got it to me. Then I was really determined. I took that ball to the rim with all my might.”
Rankin’s might made Causby’s night.
Salisbury (26-1) won its third straight CCC tournament. The Hornets also have won back-to-back Moir Classic titles so it’s obvious the Hornets like playing for trophies in front of packed houses.
“We don’t want to leave any hardware on the table,” Causby said. “The biggest thing is we’ve got guys with a belief they’re gonna win.”
Salisbury has won 21 in a row against CCC foes dating back to last season, but it got a severe test from an inspired Lexington team the Hornets had destroyed 83-57 at SHS.
“They beat us so easily last time that our intensity surprised them,” Lexington coach Robert Hairston said. “We competed, got on the boards. It was a hard-played game, the kind of game that makes you wish you could put a uniform on.”
Rankin, who finished with 13 points, didn’t play in the first quarter. He was less than 100 percent after rolling an ankle Wednesday.
The teams traded buckets and turnovers in the first quarter, but the game swung Lexington’s way when Salisbury point guard Thaddeus Williams ó an extension of Causby on the floor ó sat down with three fouls with 6:21 remaining in the first half. It got frantic for the Hornets after that, and they trailed 31-30 at halftime despite three 3-pointers by guard John Knox.
“We were making too many fouls just from being overly aggressive,” Knox said. “We also did a bad job boxing out, and Lexington was really coming hard. They wanted to prove they could play with us.”
Salisbury didn’t regain momentum until 6-foot-7 Alex Weant had a burst of points and boards to start the fourth quarter.
“Alex getting on the boards was the single biggest reason we won,” Causby said.
Rankin’s layup off a Williams steal gave the Hornets a 54-52 lead, but missed free throws allowed Lexington to tie at 56-all with 38 seconds left on Crump’s stickback.
After Salisbury missed and Lexington turned it over, it was Rankin’s time. He delivered.
“Any one of us could have taken that last shot,” Knox said. “But when Darien got it, I saw he had it in his heart that we weren’t gonna lose.”
lexington (56) ó Challenger 11, Parsons 10, Crump10, Curry 9, Boger 5, Green 5, McCown 4, Holmes 2, Stevenson.
salisbury (58) ó Rankin 13, Knox 10, Abel 9, Weant 9, Phillips 7, Morris 4, Williams 4, Lingard 2, Jones, Wilkins.
Lexington 13 18 10 15 ó 56
Salisbury 15 15 13 15 ó 58
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