Prep Basketball: East Rowan boys 50, Carson 46

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 13, 2012

By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY — Carson boys coach Brian Perry refers to East Rowan senior Weston Rogers as a “Carson killer,” and Rogers stuck one last dagger in the Cougars on Monday to end their season.
Like most of his teammates, Rogers was struggling through a cold shooting night, but his 3-pointer from deep on the left side keyed East’s 50-46 victory in the first round of the NPC tournament.
Rogers’ clutch shot with 30 seconds left broke a 46-all tie.
“Not exactly how we drew it up,” said East coach Trey Ledbetter. “We were wanting to milk the clock down to 15 seconds and get a timeout. Weston didn’t even have a great angle, but he felt it. When he shot it, it was no, no, no. But then it was go, go go.”
Third-seeded East (14-9) got out of whack offensively with guard Jordan Shepherd in foul trouble. The Mustangs failed to make a field goal in the second quarter — shooting 0-for-11 — and trailed Carson by 11 points early in the fourth quarter.
East shot 22 percent the first three quarters, and when Hakeem Gittens missed a dunk, even Ledbetter was starting to think it wasn’t East’s night.
“You could just feel all the air leaving the gym,” Ledbetter said.
Carson still led 42-34 with under five minutes to play, but that’s when Jared Hough — an East senior known as “Subway” — provided instant energy that turned the game around.
It was like Hough had eaten a $5 footlong, plus four Cokes, because he suddenly scored eight points in 30 seconds. Two 3-pointers and a layup. His second open 3 made it 42-all, and East students, many wearing pink, nearly tore the roof off with noise.
“Our last game in this gym, we didn’t want to lose it, and we knew we were never out of it,” Hough said. “Coach always says, ‘Shoot it if you’re open,’ and I just got hot at the right time.”
East’s 1-2-2 press was causing trouble for Carson (7-18), but a D.J. Love bucket with 3:39 remaining put the Cougars back ahead 44-42. Rogers then set a screen that resulted in disaster for Carson. Myquon Stout was called for a foul fighting through the screen and Love was hit with a heat-of-the moment technical that ended his night. Rogers and Shepherd sank a free throw apiece, and the score was 44-all.
“Tonight was our whole season balled up in 32 minutes,” Perry said. “I’m disappointed. Silly mistakes. A technical. Giving up open 3s. Unforced turnovers. Two three-second violations. Yeah, we’re young, but at some point you have to stop playing young and start playing smart.”
Tre Williams made a steal and a bucket for a 46-44 Cougar lead with 2:24 remaining, but East’s Donte Means looked like a “Twister” contestant as he re-tied the game with an acrobatic drive with 1:25 to play.
Then Carson turned it over again, and Rogers drilled his shot to put the Mustangs up 49-46.
Carson senior Dontae Gilbert tried to tie it with a 3 from the top of the circle, but he missed. Shepherd soared for the rebound with five seconds left and made one free throw to seal East’s win.
East will play No. 2 seed West Rowan at 7:30 p.m. at Statesville in a Thursday semifinal.
CARSON (46) — Williams 10, Laws 8, Love 7, Gilbert 6, Howard 6, Stout 4, Raper 3, Bigelow 2, Abbitt.
EAST ROWAN (50) — Hough 16, Rogers 7, Means 6, Shepherd 5, L’Hommedieu 4, Gobble 4, Gittens 8, Holmes, Honeycutt, D. Nelson.
Carson 11 11 16 8 — 46
E. Rowan 15 3 11 21 — 50