Prep Basketball: Salisbury boys 70, East Davidson 67
By Ryan Bisesi
Salsbury knows a 2-0 start in the 2-A Central Carolina Conference is good by any measurement of success.
However, if the Hornets buzz around like they did in the final six minutes, their stay at the top of the league will be brief.
Salisbury survived a clash with a hot-shooting East Davidson team that had a tying look from halfcourt at the buzzer in a 70-67 triumph Friday night. It was a continuance of dominance against East, whom Salisbury beat three times last season.
“We didn’t feel like we played great tonight but then again, we’re playing against a team that’s going to be a really good team this year,” Salisbury coach Justin Morgan said. “We feel like we’ll take a 2-0 record.”
A see-saw affair in the opening half saw Salisbury gain distance with a dominant third quarter and hang on after being outscored 19-10 in the final six minutes. The opening 18 minutes saw 14 lead changes.
After topping Lexington earlier in the week, the Hornets got 23 points from Darien Rankin and took advantage of some second-half foul trouble for the Golden Eagles. Taylor Warren, who finished with a season-best 26 points, picked up his fourth foul with 5:23 left in the third quarter. East’s Nick Lopez also claimed his fourth foul at the 4:16 mark. Both players did not return until the fourth quarter and eventually fouled out. East failed to score in the final 5:30 of the third, helping Salisbury (9-4, 2-0 CCC) gain a 58-44 edge, its biggest lead, with eight minutes to play.
“That hurt us, but not like I thought it was going to,” said East coach Matt Jacobs of the foul struggles. “We had some kids step up and play well in their place.”
Leading 69-64 with 46.7 seconds left, the Hornets made just one of their last six free throws to allow East (9-7, 1-2 CCC) to hang around. A put-back by Warren with 37.9 ticks left closed East to within 69-66. Corey Murphy was fouled on the ensuing possession and misfired on both freebies. Jarrett Rivens was whistled for pushing Warren on the rebound attempt, giving the Eagles hope. Warren made the first free throw and the Hornets forced a jump ball after the second try was off. John Knox capped the scoring with a free throw with 17 seconds left. East got a good look from the corner from Braxton Shetley, but the attempt drew air and Tion McCain grabbed a steal and was fouled after an East offensive board with 4.5 seconds left.
McCain couldn’t hit either of his shots from the charity stripe and Shetly got another chance to tie it on a running half-court shot that was wide as the buzzer sounded.
“Free throws can win or lose a game,” Morgan said. “We need to focus on that more in practice.”
After trailing 38-37 at the half, Salisbury took the lead for keeps on a basket from Rankin early in the half. The Hornets were able to obtain distance after a first half where neither team led by more than three.
“We tried to put pressure on them, but we were sluggish on defense,” Rankin said. “They made a lot of threes.”
The teams traded three-pointers on five consecutive possessions heading into the second quarter.
After Warren posted an 18-point first quarter, Salisbury clamped down and held him to 8 in the second half. The Hornets did likewise with Blake Dodd, who scored 15 in the first half, but earned just two free throws in the second.
“That’s a heck of a basketball team over there,” said Jacobs of Salisbury.
Salisbury’s John Knox, who will take a football recruiting visit to Winston-Salem State today, finished with 10 points.
EAST DAVIDSON (67) — Warren 26, Dodd 17, Shetley 11, Lopez 4, Booze 4, Griffin 3,Craven 3.
SALISBURY (70) — Rankin 23, McCain 15, Knox 10, Murphy 6, Petty 6, Morris 4, Rivens 4, Weant 2.
E. Davidson 23 15 6 23 — 67
Salisbury 21 16 21 12 — 70