Carson boys 61, East Rowan 48
By David Shaw
CHINA GROVE — Brian Perry and the Carson boys basketball team are getting the hang of this.
The grinding NPC regular-season has been wilder than a New York cab ride for Cougars, who maintained their place in the congested league standings with Wednesday’s 61-46 win over visiting East Rowan.
“This was a huge game,” Perry said after Carson (7-9 overall) improved to 4-3 in the conference. “It seems like every week I’m talking about how big the next game is. This league is bunched up after first and second place, so yeah, this win was huge.”
CHS blow-torched the place in the first half when it knocked down six 3-pointers and grabbed a 40-20 lead. “If you’re hitting threes you can break open a game,” senior Nick Houston said. “That’s what the line’s there for. And if you’ve got a big guy in the paint you’re gonna get rebounds.”
Carson’s big guy was 6-foot-3 space-eater Rik Heggins, a sophomore who corralled 10 rebounds, including four off the offensive boards.
“Their spurts came from offensive rebounds,” East coach Trey Ledbetter said after the Mustangs (1-14, 1-6) were beaten inside and out. “Rik Heggins was absolutely dominant on the boards.”
The early fireworks were provided by Houston and Carson teammate Zach Wagner. Each made three long-distance connections in the first half. Wagner first 3-ball helped the Cougars race to an 8-0 lead. His second came from the top of the wheel with six minutes left in the half and put Carson up 20-7. And his third — a rainbow from the right side — produced a 38-19 edge with less than a minute remaining in the half.
“That one guy (Wagner) shot one from behind the volleyball line,” said East’s Avery Rogers. “And he still swished it.”
Houston sank three long balls within a span of 1:28, the last on a jumper from right side that supplied a 16-point advantage.
“I think we came out with a lot of energy,” Perry said. “With Nick and Wags hitting those threes, that pushed that lead up bigger than it would have been. If they hadn’t, we probably still would have been ahead, but not by 20 — which, it turned out, we needed.”
The Mustangs showed some spark early in the third period when Josh Gobble hit a layup and Roby Holmes buried a three from the left side. By the time muscular forward Anthony Oglesby maneuvered for back-to-back layups, ER had trimmed its deficit to 41-29.
But Carson responded with a display of mental and physical steadfastness. Houston’s power drive along the baseline resulted in a layup-plus-one and a putback by Heggins gave the Cougars a 46-32 lead after three quarters.
“It seemed like everything they did in the first half took us out of our game,” said Ledbetter. “I credit their tenacity. They never faltered.”
Houston finished with 19 points and nine rebounds. Heggins and Wagner each contributed 12 points. Heggins, who scored on a jailbreak jam early the fourth period, scored his last bucket when he rebounded a missed free throw and used a soft touch off the glass with 1:03 to play.
“Whenever I see a ball come off the rim,” he explained, “I automatically know it’s mine. I may have to fight, but I’m going to get it.”
Houston was cool with that. “That’s what we need he said. “In this league everybody seems to come at you and play hard.”
By now they’re used to that.
NOTES: Rogers paced the Mustangs with 11 points. … Carson visits West Rowan and East travels to Statesville on Friday.
EAST ROWAN (46) — A.Rogers 11, Hough 9, Shepherd 7, Holmes 6, Oglesby 4, Gobble 4, Gittens 3, W.Rogers 2, Honeycutt, Driver.
CARSON (61) — Houston 19, Wagner 12, R.Heggins 12, D.Heggins 6, Abbitt 4, Love 4, Gilbert 2, Raper 2, Parker, Eagle.
E. Rowan 5 15 12 14 — 46
Carson 15 25 6 15 — 61