Salisbury boys 64, South Rowan 60

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 10, 2009

By David Shaw
Someone must have set Salisbury’s internal alarm clock for midway through the third quarter Wednesday night.
The host Hornets used a ferocious finishing kick to rally from 16 points down and gain a thrilling 64-60 non-league victory over South Rowan.
“We had to wake up,” senior Jahaan Hailey said. “By then, we knew the game wasn’t going to be handed to us. We had to do what we had to do.”
Salisbury (2-2) hung a U-turn by limiting the Raiders to five baskets in the second half and just one in the fourth quarter. South’s Blake Houston converted six of seven 3-point shots and scored 22 points in the first half, then went scoreless in the third and fourth periods.
“He did everything in the first half,” losing coach John Davis said after SR fell to 3-5. “In the second half we stopped finding him. A good shooter has to keep his rhythm and keep moving without the ball. I think we all just ran out of gas.”
South was playing its third game in three nights, but you wouldn’t have known it until the waning moments. The Raiders ó and Houston in particular ó threw out more electricity than a downed power line in the opening half, racing to 42-29 halftime lead.
“We just couldn’t guard him,” said Alex Weant, Salisbury’s top scorer with 19 points. “He was always finding seams and getting open shots. In the second half we were able to lock him down.”
Houston drained three 3-balls late in the half, helping South extend a 29-26 advantage.
“Blake was lights-out for a while,” said SHS coach Jason Causby. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize ó after three, four, five of those shots ó that we’d have to get out on him and stop walking around.”
When junior Mark McDaniel hit a layup and a free throw early in the third quarter, South’s lead ballooned to 45-29.
“We had our doubts,” said Hornets’ guard John Knox. “We didn’t come out with much intensity, but we knew what we were doing wrong ó not talking on defense, not helping out. When we started doing that, we started getting turnovers and started making stops.”
Salisbury scurried back into the game with a quick 10-0 run, sparked by Hailey’s 3-pointer from the left wing, a 3-point play by Romar Morris and a blink-and-you-missed it layup by Dominique Phillips.
“These guys have way too much pride not to make a run,” said Causby. “We knew it was coming. We just hoped it wouldn’t be too late.”
It took another flurry in the fourth quarter for Salisbury to prevail. South pushed its lead to 57-47 when senior John Davis, the coach’s son, converted both ends of a one-and-one with 6:17 to play. The Raiders still led by eight points when Randy Maxwell sank a short jumper from the right base line with 2:32 remaining, but never scored again.
“We can make a living on the free throw line as long as we can get there,” said Coach Davis. “But we stopped.”
And Salisbury got going. The Hornets finished the game with a 12-0 scoring spree. Weant, a 6-foot-7 junior, tied the score at 60 when he zeroed in on a rebound and converted a tip-in with 1:17 on the clock. And Knox sealed the deal with a pair of clutch free throws 10 seconds later.
“I knew we needed those,” Knox said. “But I was tired. I didn’t have my legs. I had to put some arch on it and follow through.”
Which is precisely how Salisbury capped an unlikely comeback. “No one ever gives up,” Weant said. “When we lose, we lose as a team. Tonight we won as a team.”
south ROWAN (60) ó Houston 22, Davis 18, Maxwell 8, McDaniel 5, Akers 3, Grant 2, Glaspy 2, Gaddy, Henderson, Sharpe, Dessasore.SALISBURY (64) ó Weant 19, Hailey 14, Knox 8, Rankin 7, Morris 7, Phillips 4, Wilkins 3, Nunn 1, McCain 1, Jones, Murphy, Petty.
S. Rowan 22 20 9 9 ó 60
Salisbury 17 12 16 19 ó 64