Prep Basketball: Carson boys 50, East Rowan 48, OT: Gilbert's bank shot wins it

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 20, 2012

By Mike London
CHINA GROVE — Carson’s Myquon Stout stood in the handshake line all alone, grinning from ear to ear, not realizing for a second or two that all his teammates were celebrating wildly at midcourt with fans who had stormed the floor.
Carson’s 50-48 overtime win against visiting county and NPC rival East Rowan was filled with odd moments, not the least of which was the rushed 18-foot prayer that Dontae Gilbert launched toward the rim at the end. It banked in to beat the horn and the stunned Mustangs.
“Did I call that bank?” Gilbert mused. “Oh, yeah, absolutely called it.”
Gilbert was kidding. He was also an unlikely hero. The all-county football DB’s main assignment was to slow down Jordan Shepherd, East’s top offensive threat, so Gilbert shot just three times in regulation and went 0-for-4.
But the only senior in Carson’s top eight, delivered in a big way when he had to. It’s a shot he’ll remember all his life.
“My jumpshot had been off all night,” he said. “But I made one when we needed it most.”
Based on records, it was a mismatch. Sophomore-dominated Carson (6-12, 2-5) has looked bad at times, but senior-laden East (9-8, 4-3) is playing without point guard Roby Holmes (quad, groin) and was rusty from a two-week layoff.
Two reasonable excuses, but East coach Trey Ledbetter elected to take the high road.
“A two-week layoff never helped anyone, and sure we’d like to have Roby, but you’ve got to give Carson all the credit in the world,” he said. “They outplayed us, outhustled us and outrebounded us. We would’ve been very fortunate if we’d won tonight. I thought we were very fortunate to get to overtime.”
It was a game of runs and momentum swings.
Carson jumped out 5-0 behind Colton Laws (12 points) and led 11-5 after a quarter.
“A good start is so important for us,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “If we get down early it’s hard for our young guys to stick with the plan.”
Lethargic in the first quarter, East finished the half with a flurry. After Sheperd fed Jared Hough for a layup, Josh Gobble got another layup at the horn to put East ahead 21-20 at the break.
The third quarter belonged to Carson sophomore guard Tre Williams. He banged two 3s — one response to a 3 by Shepherd — and got 10 of his 14 points in the period. East had a brutal quarter (2-for-11), and the Cougars, with a packed gym going crazy, took a 36-28 lead.
The Mustangs weren’t done. With Hakeem Gittens taking over the glass and Donte Means delivering a sudden burst of offense, East outscored the Cougars 12-1 to start the fourth quarter.
Means tied the game at 37-all with a drive before Tyler L’Hommedieu, known more for tackling ballcarriers than draining 3s, knocked down a surprise long one to give the Mustangs a 40-37 lead.
East fans erupted, and Ledbetter charged onto the court to salute his surging team, but Perry was able to calm down the young Cougars with a timeout.
“He just told us that it was all right, that every team makes runs, and they’d had theirs,” Williams said. “He told us it was our time to make a run and finish.”
D.J. Love tied it with a huge 3-ball from the left side and pounded his chest with emotion.
Williams put Carson back in front with a scoop. Shepherd, playing a lot of minutes with four fouls, answered with a pullup in the lane to re-tie it.
East’s Weston Rogers had the last shot of regulation, but his spinning banker wouldn’t fall, and Gittens fouled out crashing for the rebound. East headed for the overtime without Gittens.
“That really hurt,” Ledbetter said. “He helps us in so many ways.”
Carson immediately went up six in the OT period on points by Laws and Love and Gilbert’s steal and layup for his first two. But a 3 by Rogers temporarily rescued the Mustangs. Then when Gilbert lost Shepherd on a screen, Shepherd calmly drilled a right-corner 3 with 1:17 left to tie it one more time at 48-all.
This time it was Carson that had the last possession. Perry wanted Williams to take the shot, but after he collided with Means, it was up to Gilbert. There was no time to think. The senior willed it in.
“Sure, we got lucky there, but we needed a break,” Perry said. “Our kids fought hard enough to deserve a break.”
EAST ROWAN (48) — Shepherd 13, Means 9, Gittens 9, Rogers 6, Hough 5, L’Hommedieu 4, Gobble 2, Honeycutt, Nelson.
CARSON (50) — Williams 14, Laws 12, Love 9, Howard 5, Gilbert 4, Raper 3, Abbitt 2, Stout 1, Bigelow.
E. Rowan 5 16 7 14 6 — 48
Carson 11 9 16 6 8 — 50