Prep Basketball: Cleaning out the Moir Classic Notebook
From staff reports
Cleaning out the Moir Christmas Classic notebook…
North Rowan boys assistant coach Bill Kesler was one of the behind-the-scenes difference-makers in the Cavaliers’ 60-59 championship game triumph against Davie County.
Head coach Andrew Mitchell pointed at Kesler when he was asked how North out-rebounded the War Eagles 47-29.
“Bill’s a big offensive-rebounding guy,” Mitchell said. “Whenever he spotted one of our guys taking a step back instead of crashing the boards, I got that guy out of there. Guys had to rebound if they wanted to stay in the game.”
EVERY WHICH WAY: Mitchell has been a winner in the tournament now every way he can — as a North player in 1983, as coach of the Salisbury girls in 2008-09, and now as North’s boys coach.
TURNAROUND: North, the defending 1A champ, was the No. 2 seed for the Moir but entered the event without a lot of fanfare after dropping back-to-back games to No. 5 Salisbury (at Catawba) and No. 4 seed West (at home) right before the tournament.
In those two games, North didn’t take care of the glass and didn’t defend all that well, but the Cavaliers (9-2) got things straightened out in a short period of time.
“We had to humble ourselves a little bit before this tournament,” Mitchell said. “It’s a very long season, and now we have to carry the lessons we’ve learned with us. We don’t want to have to lose back-to-back games again to get us focused.”
HISTORY: The last two North teams that prevailed in the Moir (1996 and 2000) came into the event undefeated.
The only North champion that had dropped its final game right before the Moir tournament was the 1983 squad that Mitchell led to the title. Those Cavaliers lost 80-78 to Lexington in their final outing before the tournament.
TOUGH LOSS: Davie coach Mike Absher looks at the Moir as a mini-season that the War Eagles want to win, but he’s also a big-picture guy. Dressed in his best orange shirt, he was able to shake off Thursday’s agonizing loss with his usual class.
“The positive is I know we got better as a team here the last two nights, playing against quality teams and in a tremendous environment,” he said. “It can only help us for the CPC.”
Davie’s going to be without injured Caleb Martin for over a month, but if it can keep Nate Jones out on the floor, it has a chance to play with anybody.
ALMOST: Uncommitted Davie senior Shannon Dillard, who had 42 points and 20 rebounds in two games, would have been the hands-down tournament MVP if his last-second tip-in had fallen.
Instead that honor swung to North guard Pierre Givens, who was the Cavs’ most dynamic player all three nights.
FORD HAS A BETTER IDEA : North’s 6-foot-7 Malik Ford had one of the memorable sequences of the tournament when he blocked one of Dillard’s patented fadeaway jumpers, then sprinted down the floor for a dunk.
Everyone was a little stunned that Dillard’s highly elevated shot got blocked.
“We told Malik that he might block one of Dillard’s shots, but that he’d only block one,” Mitchell said. “We told him if he tried to block them he’d just get fouls. We just told him to get his hands up and contest every shot.”
Dillard shot 7-for-16, but North could live with that.
SURPRISE: Coach Brian Perry’s very young Carson boys team made strides in the tournament. The sophomore-laden No. 6 seed collected victories against South and Salisbury after dropping a tough, first-round game against East.
Carson’s triumph against Salisbury in Thursday’s fifth-place contest was the eyebrow-raiser. It’s the first time the Cougars have ever beaten the Hornets. Carson had been 0-3 against SHS in previous Moirs.
Carson sophomore Colton Laws had a shaky shooting day on Thursday, but he still averaged 15.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in the event. His 46 points ranked third among all players in the tournament and his 27 rebounds ranked fourth.
Sophomore guard Tre Williams scored 37 in the tournament.
MUSTANG MANIA: Trey Ledbetter’s East boys went 2-1 in the Moir, including their second win of the season against West.
East already owns nine wins, after winning a total of 10 the previous three seasons, and has held four opponents under 40 points.
The Mustangs haven’t won a league regular season title since 1987-88, but they’re contenders this time. They’ll be underdogs against Statesville, which won Iredell’s Christmas tourney, but they’ll be favored against everyone else.
GIRLS ALL-TOURNAMENT: East Rowan got a pair of amazing individual performances in the Moir and won twice, but there’s no way the fifth-place team can ever place two on the six-girl all-tournament team.
Media and Catawba tournament administrators went with Karleigh Wike, who had one of the monster games in tournament history on Thursday, to represent the Mustangs.
Wike scored 55 points (third in the tourney), was tops in rebounding (49) and second in blocked shots (12).
Freshman Kelli Fisher didn’t make all-tournament, but she had great numbers — 52 points (ranking fourth) and 38 rebounds (third).
Third-place West Rowan’s Shay Steele was an easy all-tournament pick with glowing stats that included 57 points (second in the tournament), 62-percent shooting (second), 29 rebounds (fifth) and 14 blocked shots (first).
Carson’s two all-tournament choices weren’t hard.
Tyesha Phillips, who missed several games with an ankle injury earlier this season, had her career-high with 18 points in the title game. She also was the most accurate field-goal shooter in the tournament— 12-for-19 for 63.2 percent.
Carson’s all-tournament guard Kelly Dulkoski scored 20 points in the championship game and was the Cougars’ leading scorer in the event with 35 in two games. She hit six 3s in the title game.
Salisbury had an obvious all-tournament pick in senior leader Doreen Richardson, who provided all the intangibles and also had nice numbers — 37 points, 13 assists (second in the tourney) and 10 steals (third).
Salisbury MVP Brielle Blaire had an overwhelming tournament that included her career-best 33-point barrage in the final.
Besides leading the tournament in scoring with 72 points, Blaire was second in rebounds (39) and third in blocked shots (7).
UNSUNG HEROES: Salisbury’s Vashti Usry was an all-tournament candidate. She scored 34 points and was the tournament leader in 3-pointers (eight). She shot 80 percent from the foul line.
East’s Steffi Sides was the surprise assists leader for the tournament with 17.
South guards Avery Locklear and Lauren Miller were the co-leaders in steals for the tournament with 11.
Davie’s Amy Steller went 11-for-13 at the line to lead all free-throw shooters.
SHARP SHOOTING: Six girls — Phillips, Steele, Fisher, Dulkoski, Richardson and West’s Brittney Barber — all made at least a dozen field goals in the event while shooting 50 percent or better.
SHOOTOUT: Salisbury’s 71-67 win against Carson in the final set a couple of offensive records.
The teams combined for the most points (138) ever scored in a Moir girls final.
Carson, which lost for the first time this season, scored the most points ever by the losing team.
Tournament director Dennis Davidson declared at halftime that it was best half of girls basketball he’d seen at the Moir.
HORNETS HISTORY: Salisbury’s girls have made the Moir final 11 times and own 10 wins. The only championship game loss by the Hornets was to Davie in 1983.
IRONWOMAN: Senior Kayla Corriher played all 96 available minutes in South’s three games and averaged a double-double. She scored 34 points and pulled down 33 rebounds, including 21 on the offensive end.
South’s Locklear, a freshman, played 93 minutes and scored 46 points. She’s already surpassed 200 points for her career.
MILLER TIME: The Moir is always a special event for Davie assistant Johnny Miller, who played for Sam Moir at Catawba.
Miller played in three Christmas tournaments for Davie, he’s now coached in seven, and he’s watched many more over the decades.
“The entire atmosphere surrounding the tournament is something for Salisbury and Rowan County to be proud of,” he said. “Dennis Davidson and his staff do a fantastic job of organizing and running the event. It is really special for these kids to be able to play in front of 2,600 fans. The schools that participate should feel privileged to be a part of something of this magnitude on high school level. It just doesn’t get any better than this.”
FAMILIAR FACES: Miller wasn’t the only former Davie and Catawba star on hand.
Dwayne Grant, who finished his career at Davie with 2,007 points back in the 70s, — think what he could’ve done with a 3-point line? — was spotted in the War Eagle crowd.
Jennifer Shoaf, who started this Salisbury domination thing when she coached the Hornets, was there.
Marvin Dixon, former West Rowan MVP Jamel Carpenter and Carson running back, now at Western Carolina Shaun Warren were spotted.
We could go on and on, but … wait. That “Incredible Hulk” in the police uniform looked familiar.
The man with the badge was Matt Butler, a former Salisbury and East Carolina offensive lineman who was a free agent in the Detroit Lions camp after his ECU days.
The solid-as-a-rock Butler looked as if he could still pound some people on the football field.
Maybe that’s why, if anyone wanted to start trouble at the Moir, they thought better of it with Butler patrolling Goodman Gym.
Mike London and Ronnie Gallagher contributed to the notebook.