Carson boys 68, South 66, 2 OTs
By Mike London
CHINA GROVE — South Rowan’s Johnathan Gaddy swished two free throws with five seconds left in the second overtime to tie Tuesday’s draining NPC game one last time.
The euphoria of South fans turned to groans one second later when Gaddy was called for a foul trying to swipe the ball from Carson star Nick Houston in the backcourt.
Houston had been placed in a similar situation against West Rowan last season. Again, he made the long stroll to the other end of the floor and knocked down the game-deciding free throws.
Those free throws were Houston’s 29th and 30th points, and Carson owned a 68-66 victory against the Raiders after Travis Abbitt picked off South’s inbounds pass.
“Crazy game,” Houston said. “We pulled it out, but I don’t know how. It’s huge.”
Gaddy’s 23 points and Mark McDaniel’s 22 carried the Raiders (3-10, 0-3), who suffered another painful loss.
“That was a game every kid who played in it will never forget,” South coach John Davis said. “But for our guys, it’ll be a bitter memory.”
Cody Clanton (back) didn’t play, and Devon Heggins, Carson’s primarily ballhandler, was benched after picking up a technical foul in the opening seconds of the second half.
Young Cougars Rik Heggins, Malachi Parker and D.J. Love all fouled out, but not before making major contributions.
“It was a great game for us because there were three or four points where we were just about beaten but kept fighting,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “If someone fouled out, then that next person who went in there made a play to help us win.”
It was all Carson early. South made just one field goal in the first quarter and trailed 21-9 midway through the second after Rik Heggins scored inside for the Cougars.
But McDaniel, a senior, took over the rest of the half, soaring for rebounds, battling inside, converting left-handed flips. Brad Akers stroked a 3-pointer for a 22-22 tie at halftime, and South had all the momentum.
“We started out like a rusty lawnmower,” Davis said. “But we found some mismatches and started cutting some grass.”
Houston scored 11 points in the third quarter as the Cougars (6-8, 3-2) stopped South’s momentum. After that, it was even. Neither team led by more than three during a frantic fourth quarter.
Rik Heggins put Carson in front 48-46 with 1:12 left, but Gaddy’s swooping drive tied it for the Raiders with 58 seconds to go. Houston put the Cougars ahead with two free throws before Gaddy forced overtime with a spin down the lane with five seconds left in regulation.
When Nathan Lambert scored inside with 1:53 left in the first overtime period, South owned a 56-52 lead, but Love answered with a critical three-point play for the Cougars.
South led 58-55 when Houston drilled a long wing 3 with 38 seconds left. That shot led to a second overtime period.
“We ran a play, and I had to make that shot,” Houston said. “I’d missed a layup that would have gotten us all out of here about an hour earlier.”
A driving layup by Houston made it 65-62 Cougars with 52 seconds left in the second OT, but two free throws by South’s Quan Neal made it 65-64.
Parker made one free throw for the Cougars with 11 seconds to go for a two-point lead before Gaddy made his drive for a tie.
One second later, Houston was fouled and was calmly walking to the other end to decide it.
“Johnathan gambled, went for a steal and got a foul,” Davis said. “But I can’t fault his effort or anyone else’s effort. We’re a high-effort team, and we’re always going to do everything we can to try to make a play.”
SOUTH ROWAN (66) — Gaddy 23, McDaniel 22, Akers 9, Medlin 6, Lambert 4, Neal 2, Tyler, Miller, Spry, Sharpe, Boulware.
CARSON (68) — Houston 30, R. Heggins 9, Love 8, M. Parker 6, D. Heggins 5, Williams 4, Wagner 2, Eagle 2, Abbitt 2, Raper.
S. Rowan 4 18 14 14 8 8 — 66
Carson 11 11 15 13 8 10 — 68
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