Moir Christmas Classic girls championship: Salisbury girls 71, Carson 67
By Ryan Bisesi
SALISBURY — Changing out for Thursday’s Moir Christmas Classic championship, the Salisbury girls basketball all wore the same number.
It wasn’t worn on the jersey, but on the mind. All it took was the toughest win of the year for the Hornets to extend their Moir championship streak from 2003 in a 71-67 triumph against Carson at Goodman Gym.
Salisbury’s Brielle Blaire scored a career-high 33 points after eight ties and nine lead changes demanded the stream of offense keep flowing. Blaire sunk 15 of 26 shots and pulled down 10 rebounds in what may have been the most impressive night of the stellar sophomore’s career to date.
“We just had to keep pushing through,” said Blaire, the Moir MVP. “We knew we had to win this game to keep the streak going.”
Blaire helped extend a run that started when she was in elementary school. It may not have meant much then, but Thursday night, it was paramount.
“Streaks can be a good or a bad thing,” said Salisbury coach Chris McNeil.
Of course, it wasn’t easy. Carson led 34-28 at halftime and shot 56 percent in the first half while Salisbury was 13 of 37 from the field. Cougar freshman Alex Allen scored back-to-back baskets at the end of the half.
Salisbury answered by starting the second half on an 8-2 run to tie the game.
“At halftime, I just told them to settle down,” McNeil said. “They gave us their best half and we were successful and didn’t lose focus.”
Kelly Dulkoski was 6 of 10 from 3, but the Hornets allowed the rest of Carson to shoot 1 of 10 from long range.
“We knew that their primary points were going to come from shooting 3s,” said Salisbury guard Doreen Richardson, who had a death grip on the Moir championship trophy after the game. “I felt like if we could stop them from shooting, then we had a good chance.”
Richardson was all-tournament with 10 points and six assists in the finale.
Blaire hit a runner in transition while being fouled to put the Hornets up double digits at 67-56 with 1:52 left. It was the proverbial dagger and Blaire knew it, as she let go an empathic yell.
“She’s very passionate about the game,” McNeil said.
The Cougars shot 50 percent for the game but weren’t pretty at the foul line, going 6 for 14 and were 1 for 7 early on. The foul shooting coupled with 20 turnovers equaled Carson’s first loss of the year.
“We just hurt ourselves tonight,” Misenheimer said. “In the first half, we had opportunity after opportunity.”
Dulkoski (20 points) and Tyesha Phillips (18 points) were included on the all-tournament team.
Salisbury (11-2) had a 48-45 lead at the end of the third quarter. Carson cut it to 53-51 after consecutive shots from Phillips and Allison Blackwell with 6:08 left to play. Blaire found Daterria Connor open for two on the following possession. Shortly thereafter, Ashley Blaire blocked a shot and scooped it up, equaling two points at the other end to make it 59-53.
“We knew Brielle was going to get her points,” Misenheimer said. “The thing was, when people were driving, we didn’t step up and take a charge.”
A Dulkoski trey gave Carson a 20-17 lead after one quarter. The Cougars led 24-19 before the see-saw affair resumed.
When it concluded, it was the same old, same old. Salisbury on top again.
SALISBURY (71) — Blaire 33, Blaire 10, Connor 9, Usry 9, Richardson 9, Harris 1, Caldwell, Lattimore, Angle, Harmon.
CARSON (67) — Dulkoski 20, Phillips 18, Blackwell 9, Holman 8, Monroe 7, Allen 5.
Salisbury 17 11 20 23 — 71
Carson 20 14 11 22 — 67