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Basketball: Moose leading Carson charge

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
Boys basketball notebook …
To the surprise of no one, Carson senior Darius Moose has been the county’s dominant boys basketball player so far and has led the Cougars to a 7-1 record.
Moose scored 20 or more points in six of the Cougars’ first eight games and is averaging 20.4 per outing. The Brevard signee has 1,394 career points and is already 11th on the county’s all-time scoring list.
Moose has surpassed an interesting collection of legends so far this season, including Granite Quarry’s Jay Ritchie, who pitched in the major leagues, and Landis’ Billy Ray Barnes, who made All-Pro squads in the NFL.
Other standouts whose career scoring marks have been eclipsed by Moose in the early going include West’s Junior Hairston, Snip Keaton and Joel Fleming, North’s Jimmy Kesler and Randy Hutchins and East’s Alstin Vanderford.
The late Kenny Holt, who scored 1,441 points at Price and Boyden, is 10th all-time and is the next target for Moose.
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MOIR LOOMS: Carson was 21-54 in its first three seasons but has a chance to be the No. 1 seed for the Sam Moir Christmas Classic at Catawba later this month.
The top seed is a significant reward because it means a first-round bye and a free ticket into the semifinals in the seven-team field.
The No. 1 seed is always the fresher team if it makes it to the championship game. All seeds besides No. 1 are looking at back-to-back-to-back games on a big floor.
Moir seedings are based strictly on winning percentage for the 2009-10 season, not past accomplishments, polls or potential.
Salisbury (2-3) may be the county’s most talented squad and has great potential long-term in the 2A ranks, but it lost twice without its football players and also dropped a shootout with SPC favorite Concord on Friday.
The Hornets definitely could win their third straight Moir title, but they are unlikely to be the No. 1 seed.
Perennial power West is still 0-0 and will be missing Shrine Bowlers Chris Smith and K.P. Parks this week. B.J. Sherrill, Jon Crucitti, Domonique Noble, KaJuan Phillips, Maxx Gore, Maurice Warren and Coleman Phifer were all instrumental in West’s football run and will start finding their basketball legs at coach Mike Gurley’s practice today.
West won’t win nearly as many games as Carson before Santa arrives, but if the Falcons are still undefeated they would get the No. 1 seed.
Remember, it’s all about winning percentage.
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DEFENSE: Even with Moose and double-figure scorers Nick Houston and Cody Clanton, the Cougars are doing it mostly with defense.
Coach Brian Perry’s team actually set the school defensive record last season when the Cougars allowed 62.1 points a game.
So far this season they are giving up only 47.5 points a game. That’s stingy.
The Cougars twice broke the school record for fewest points allowed in a game in back-to-back romps against Mount Pleasant (70-32) and West Davidson (70-30).
Carson won its NPC opener on the road on Friday and is 1-0 in the league for the first time.
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GOOD START: North is enjoying a chance to compete at the 1A level and is off to a 4-1 start (the loss was to Salisbury).
The Cavaliers are also very much in the running for the top Moir seed. This is their best start since the 2000-01 season when they went 27-1.
Coach Kelly Everhart is closing in on 150 career wins. He’s in his 12th season at North and is 141-139. He’s eighth on the all-time list for boys coaches in the county. He’s three behind Charles Hellard.
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HORNET HOOPS: If Moose is going to have Rowan County Player of the Year competition, Salisbury’s high-flying junior Darien Rankin is the most likely source.
Rankin is more spectacular than Moose, but Moose’s consistency, rebounding and all-round game are hard to beat.
Rankin scored 26 against Concord, matching his career high, and that’s doing it against quality competition.
He’s only played in three games so far ó and hurt his shoulder in one of them ó but it looks as if his jump shot has significantly improved from last year. If he can make jumpers to go with his drives, he’s pretty much unguardable.
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CAUSBY SHOW: SHS coach Jason Causby is in his sixth season and is closing in on 100 wins. He logged his 92nd when the Hornets beat South Rowan 64-60 last week.
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CLOSE GAMES: If you want to see a game that goes to the wire, South may be your best bet.
The Raiders have minimal size, but they have five players who are in double figures often and four who have scored 17 or more in a game this season.
That combination has translated to tight games. South’s played four already that were decided by four points or less. The Raiders (3-5) dropped three of them.
South is scoring 66.6 points a game but coach John Davis is looking for improvement on the defensive end.
John Davis, the coach’s son, may be the county’s most improved player. The senior is averaging 17.6 points a game. He averaged 7.4 last season.
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BREAKING OUT: East’s student section is having an opportunity to chant, “He’s a sophomore!” more and more frequently.
The guy they’re talking about is guard Cole Honeycutt, who looks ready to make the jump into the mix of the county’s elite players. Honeycutt scored a career-best 23 in Friday’s loss to West Iredell.
Honeycutt is already a pretty complete offensive player, with an accurate 3-point shot and good ballhandling skills.
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STEADY: East senior guard Phillip Ajayi has scored in double figures six straight games, while senior post man Brian Grohman has been in double figures five out of six. Senior Riley Weber isn’t a big scorer but stuffs the stat sheet nightly with steals, rebounds and assists.
Put those three with Honeycutt and developing post man Omar Gittens, who contributed 28 points in East’s two victories, and coach Jim Lankford has a solid first five.
East is 2-4, but it’s a long season and this could turn out to be a very competitive team in the wide-open NPC.

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