Prep hoops: Hickory Ridge girls 52, Carson 23

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Mike London
CHINA GROVE ó There’s little doubt Carson’s girls are taller and more talented than in previous years, but they’re still on a one-step-forward, two-steps-back treadmill.
If Monday’s home game against Hickory Ridge is ever made into a horror movie, the title will be “Nightmare on Kress Venture Drive.”Carson didn’t make a field goal in the first or fourth quarters and was battered by Hickory Ridge 52-23.
Hickory Ridge’s man-to-man defense was intense early, and the Ragin’ Bulls (1-1) jumped all over the Cougars.
It was 9-0 before Tyesha Phillips hit two free throws to put Carson on the board with 2:37 left in the first quarter.
It was 15-2 in the second quarter when Phillips, a freshman, took a pass from Demya Heggins and scored on an inbounds play for Carson’s first field goal.
“The big focus in our practices has been defense,” Hickory Ridge coach Jessica Kulp said. “We’ve got some quick girls and try to use that to our advantage. We’re trying to create offense with our defense.”
The Ragin’ Bulls, who took it on the chin from 4A Ardrey Kell in their opener, accomplished that mission. Seventeen of Carson’s 26 turnovers came in the first half, many of them steals off solid ball pressure. Hickory Ridge’s 5-foot-10 Jordan Strode and 6-0 Candra Mathis also threatened to break national records for blocked shots.
When senior Akyshia Resper hit a 3-pointer for the Bulls midway through the second quarter, they led 24-4 and looked like the might win by 50, but Carson (0-3) got an offensive lift from veteran Jazzmin Brown late in the half. She stroked some nice jumpers, and the Cougars made it to halftime down a more respectable 25-10.
When Hickory Ridge started off a little flat in the second half, Carson scratched as close a 27-18 midway through the third quarter, but that only proved to be a wakeup call for the visitors, who outscored Carson 25-5 the rest of the way. Resper made a steal and hit a back-breaking buzzer-beater to stretch the lead to 16 points at the end of the third quarter, and Kulp turned things over to reserves down the stretch.
“We got a little too comfortable at the start of the second half, when the girls started thinking they already had it won,” Kulp said. “But you’ve got to keep playing. Carson is scrappy. They never gave up.”
Brown finished with 11 points, but the rest of the cold-shooting Cougars combined for only 12.
“It fell apart out there tonight, and we didn’t play anywhere near our potential,” Brown said. “There was some lack of effort on our part, but we know we have an opportunity to win our game Tuesday (at Mount Pleasant), and we’ll be prepared to play a much better game.”
Carson shot 7-for-50 from the floor (14 percent), so it set the bar low for a better performance. Hickory Ridge, which competes in the 3A SPC, shot a respectable 36.4 percent from the floor.
NOTES: Carson never found its shooting touch and missed six straight free throws at one point in the fourth quarter. … It was the first varsity coaching win for Kulp, who has been the jayvee coach. … The Ragin’ Bulls ran into Tyson Chandler’s 6-4 sister in their first outing.
Hickory Ridge (52) ó Resper 12, Mathis 11, Strode 9, Robson 6, Scott 4, Tanguay 3, M. Yeager 2, Wells 2, Helms 2, Buddenbaum 1, Ferguson.
CARSON (23) ó Brown 11, Phillips 5, Blackwell 4, Heggins 2, Monroe 1, Cloninger, Settlemyer, K. Livengood, M. Livengood, Dulkoski.
Hickory Ridge 13 12 11 16 ó 52
Carson 2 8 10 3 ó 23