Moir Christmas Classic: Salisbury boys 79, Carson 58
By Mike London
Moir seedings are based strictly on pre-Christmas records.
It’s wins and losses, nothing personal, but Salisbury boys coach Jason Causby knows how to motivate and knows which buttons to push.
His fifth-seeded squad couldn’t wait to tear into No. 1 seed Carson, and it got ugly. Salisbury destroyed the Cougars 79-58 in a one-sided semifinal on Tuesday night.
It was 12-2 in a blink, and the Hornets (4-3) led by as many as 28. They held Carson star Darius Moose to eight points and named the score against a team that entered the event with a 10-1 record.
“The guys I have are just a phenomenal group to be associated with,” Causby said. “I fully understand why we were seeded where we were and why Carson was seeded No. 1, but our guys always expect to win. They think we’re the favorite every game, and the seeds just allowed us to have a chip about us.”
Salisbury goes for its third consecutive Moir title tonight against North Rowan (8-1). The teams split earlier meetings, but it should be noted North’s overtime victory at home came before a half-dozen Salisbury players had finished with football. At full strength, Salisbury beat the Cavs 73-50.
No one thought Salisbury was the fifth-best team in the Moir field, but they were even better than advertised.
“Not many weaknesses on that team,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “They’ve got size. They’ve got shooters. They’ve got athletes who can pressure you defensively.”
Salisbury is the first team that’s made Carson look slow. The Cougars pride themselves on their halfcourt man-to-man defense and hadn’t given up more than 57 points in a game all season. SHS had 66 after three quarters.
“Our transition defense was terrible and our limiting of their second shots was terrible,” Perry said. “They never let us get set, never let us get solid defensively.”
Jahaan Hailey scored 13 points for the Hornets. Dominique Phillips and Darien Rankin had 11 apiece, and Alex Weant contributed 10. Guard John Knox was everywhereó nine points, seven assists and 10 rebounds.
Cody Clanton (18 points, eight rebounds) and reserve Derrick Sewell (15 points) kept the Cougars from getting embarrassed.
Carson shoots a lot of 3s, settled for a bunch of them early, and it was one-and-done. Salisbury cleaned the defensive board and raced by Cougars for layups or stickbacks off missed layups. Even when the Hornets had to set up, Hailey drilled a 3.
Salisbury made eight of its first 11 shots, and it was 20-7. Just like that.
“Our coach prepares us well, and we always get that good push right at the start,” Rankin said. “We seemed to have a real spark tonight, and then our second group came in and kept the intensity up.”
Causby explained his favorite late-night viewing is Salisbury’s 97-89 loss at Concord earlier this month.
“Concord might be the best team in 3A, and I think I’ve watched that film more than any in my career,” Causby said. “Our personnel mirrors Concord’s, and I’ve learned things about keeping that attacking sort of mentality Concord has. Tonight, we stayed on the attack.”
It was 43-29 at halftime, and Carson starters Moose and Brandon Ferrare had three fouls each. Moose, the county’s leading scorer, never really got it going.
“We kept him out of the paint,” Rankin said. “We double-teamed him if he did get it down low, and we contested every shot he took.”
Carson tried to make a stand in the third quarter, got within 13 on a Clanton 3 and looked like it might prevent a full-fledged blowout.
But then came three rapid-fire layups in a row from Rankin, Phillips and Dejoun Jones, and it was all over.
“We had some pretty good looks, but they were quick looks,” Perry said. “Salisbury speeded us up.”
Salisbury (79) ó Hailey 13, Rankin 11, Phillips 11, Weant 10, Knox 9, Jones 7, Wilkins 6, Murphy 6, Morris 4, Petty 2, Wood, Nunn.
Carson (58) ó Clanton 18, Sewell 15, Moose 8, Heggins 8, Houston 5, Ferrare 4, Wagner, Crossen, Raper, Eagle, Long, Barringer.
Salisbury 26 17 23 13 ó 79
Carson 15 14 11 18 ó 58