Salisbury boys 69, Central Davidson 53
By Ronnie Gallagher
LEXINGTON — Darien Rankin wasn’t scoring a bundle and Central Davidson had just cut the Salisbury lead to 38-33 in the third quarter.
Hornet coach Justin Morgan knew exactly what to do: put in Forrest Wilkins and Romar Morris.
That dynamic duo led Salisbury on a 21-0 run and the first-place Hornets picked up a 69-43 CCC victory.
“Forrest and Romar got after it,” Morgan said. “Forrest hit some big shots. They showed senior leadership and we needed that on the road.”
Salisbury (11-4, 4-0) needed a spark in the third quarter. Point guard John Knox was on the bench with foul trouble and Rankin was playing point guard, dishing and playing defense instead of scoring. Central took advantage of some turnovers and clawed back into it.
“We played the way you’re taught to play,” Central coach Brian Hege said. “Then we played like you’re not taught to play and they go on a run.”
Central (8-8, 2-3) scored just four points in the first quarter and was in a quick 10-point hole. The Spartans trailed by 11 at the half but Hege was still optimistic. Especially when the Spartans got within five with Knox mired on the bench.
“Like in football,” John’s a big leader,” Morgan said. “When he’s not on the floor, we have a little trouble communicating.”
Still, the Hornets took off.
Tion McCain hit two quick layups off assists from Rankin and Morris. Wilkins then hit a three, followed by three points from Morris to end the third period with a 48-33 lead.
“We got some turnovers and got the ball rolling after that,” Morgan said.
It didn’t stop once the fourth quarter began. Wilkins swished a 3 and then a long two. Jarrett Rivens bulled inside for a scoop and Morris turned a steal into a hoop. When Rivens scored off a rebound, the stunning run ended with Salisbury leading 59-33.
Knox sat through most of it but Rankin was the man.
“He’s unselfish enough to know that if they’re keying on him to get it to other guys,” Morgan said. “He does whatever it takes to win. Darien was doing what John usually does.”
Hege wasn’t happy that his team didn’t show the passion to complete the rally.
“The only thing that hurt us was our turnovers,” he said. “We got beat by 26 and they probably scored 26 off turnovers. I’m not a rocket scientist, but you’re not going to win when you give up 26 points off turnovers.”
Early on, it was the Twin Towers of Alex Weant and Rivens that gave Salisbury the big lead. The Hornets kept feeding both for easy layups. By halftime, they had combined for 18 points.
But Hege’s young Spartans kept scrapping and turned it into a game until Wilkins and Morris became the pick-me-up artists.
“After coming off a couple of games where we didn’t have much energy, they gave it to us,” Morgan said.
SALISBURY (69)— Rivens 16, Weant 10, Knox 10, Wilkins 8, Woods 7, Rankin 6, Murphy 5, McCain 4, Morris 3, Petty, Robertson, Duncan, Adams.
CENTRAL DAVIDSON (43) — Reynolds 8, Wright 8, Pompey 8, Ramsey 8, Baker 4, Biesecker 4, Minnini 2, Norman 1, Laws, Dilley, Cox.
Salisbury 14 16 18 21 — 69
C. Dav. 4 15 14 10 — 43