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Prep basketball: Moir boys preview

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
Devon Heggins’ spinning jump shot in the final seconds was all that separated top-seeded Carson from bottom-seeded East Rowan on Dec. 21.
That’s how wide open this year’s Sam Moir Christmas Classic boys tournament is.
If you insist on someone in in the seven-team field being labeled the team to beat, go with Carson (10-1) and two-time defending champion Salisbury as co-favorites, but don’t rule out anyone celebrating when the three-day event concludes Wednesday night.
If you didn’t follow the early games and just stopped thinking about football when the Moir pairings were announced, you probably thought someone had enjoyed one egg nog too many.
It really is an upside-down year.
The three bottom seeds for the 2008 event ó Carson, North Rowan and Davie ó are the top three seeds this time.
The schools that have dominated over the years ó Salisbury (12 titles) and West Rowan (10 titles) ó are seeded fifth and fourth, respectively. One of those two will be knocked out of the championship picture right away when they square off in Monday’s first round. The survivor crashes into Carson in a semifinal.The reason the pairings look odd is they are based strictly on this season’s won-lost records, and this basketball season has been impacted by the historically successful football season that it followed.
Combined, West and Salisbury have played fewer games than Carson because of the long football playoff runs made by the Falcons and Hornets. Neither school could field a top-quality basketball team without its football athletes.
West (2-2) postponed a number of games, has still only taken the floor four times and still doesn’t have senior football all-stars K.P. Parks and Chris Smith, who have combined for more than 800 career points.
Playing without a half-dozen football studs, Salisbury (2-3) lost early games at North Rowan and East Rowan that it was unlikely to lose at full strength. That’s why the Hornets are seeded so low.
Carson has been building for this season since the school opened, has played better than anyone else and deserves the top seed after winning three straight NPC road games in Iredell County.
At the same time, coach Brian Perry’s Cougars won’t frighten anyone when they walk on the floor. Besides beating East by two points, they won at Davie by four. Those are only teams in the Moir field they have played.
Carson passes well, doesn’t turn it over a lot and has a standout in Darius Moose, but no one in the rotation is bigger than 6-foot-3 and the shooting comes and goes. Carson’s actually been winning with defense. It hasn’t allowed more than 57 points in a game and has kept six opponents under 50.
Salisbury and West have strong, experienced athletes, and the Hornets have a lot more size than Carson.
North and Davie have talented, hungry young teams, so they’re dangerous. Both are more athletic than they’ve been in quite a few years, and both have some height.
East has four experienced players and is capable of upsetting anyone in the field.
South can put up points in bunches ó 70 or more five times already ó so it’s capable of outscoring anyone.
While there are many young teams, it’s an experienced group of coaches. North’s Kelly Everhart, South’s John Davis and West’s Mike Gurley have piloted their schools for more than a decade.
Gurley owns four Moir crowns, while Davie’s Mike Absher and Salisbury’s Jason Causby have coached two title teams apiece. Everhart coached a Moir championship team in 2000.
While Carson seeks its first title in its fourth year of existence, South has endured the longest drought. The Raiders haven’t won the event since 1995 and haven’t reached the final since 2002.

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