Prep basketball: Salisbury boys 47, East Davidson 41
By David Shaw
SALISBURY — Jason Causby picked Tuesday — of all nights — to tinker with Salisbury’s engine.
Then again, he had little choice. The Hornets coach was forced to open the CCC tournament with starters Tony Nunn and Tion McCain chained to the bench, punishment for arriving some 30 minutes late for Salisbury’s 47-41 first-round win over visiting East Davidson.
“It makes it difficult when you have to enforce a rule,” Causby said after Salisbury (11-13) advanced to Thursday’s semifinal round at West Davidson High School. “Nobody’s paying me to win ballgames. If I win 10 or I win a hundred, I don’t get a bonus. The real thing we’re trying to do here is instill character and teach responsibility.”
Against that backdrop Salisbury persisted and gained its third straight victory. It prevailed without its two leading scorers largely because East (5-18), scrappy as it was, couldn’t hit water with an anchor. The guests were 16-for-64 from the field and made only one of 24 3-point attempts.
“We had one of our best nights turnover-wise and free throw-wise,” losing coach Matt Jacobs said. “But we missed 48 shots. And we didn’t take advantage of their two best players being disciplined.”
Salisbury also played without 6-foot-7 junior Tyler Petty, who missed his fourth game with concussion symptoms. He is expected to return when the Hornets meet Central Davidson in the semis. All tolled, it made for a sluggish first half.
“Everybody was trying to do too much, trying to go too hard,” said SHS junior Keion Adams. “We were forcing shots and not really passing the ball. Part of that was them. This was their season — all or nothing. They had nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Despite that the Hornets built a 24-14 halftime lead, fueled by a couple of John Canipe 3-pointers and another by B.J. Woods.
“That surprised me,” said Jacobs. “I told our guys they were working too hard to be down. But I was impressed that they never quit.”
Midway through the third quarter the Golden Eagles drew within 29-23 on a three-ball from the right side by Braxton Shetley. Then in the fourth period, 6-3 junior Taylor Booze — who netted a game-high 21 points — imposed his will on the Hornets and scored seven consecutive points, the last two on a fastbreak layup that made in 39-34 with 2:20 remaining.
Salisbury’s final basket came on a fierce drive down the lane by Adams a minute later.
“I saw an open seam and attacked,” he said. “They tried to set up a charge but I jumped up instead and put up a soft shot.”
East got as close as 44-41 when senior Troy Swicegood converted a pair of last-minute free throws. Salisbury sealed the deal when Woods sank two free throws with 14.3 seconds on the clock.
“I’m a good free throw shooter,” he said. “So I knew I could make those. I knew that would be the icing on the cake.”
And a funny-looking cake it was.
“I don’t think anybody that’s seen us play this year would call us a work-of-art,” Causby said. “Our main focus right now is to win and advance, any way we can do it.”
EAST DAVIDSON (41) — Booze 21, Swicegood 9, Miller 4, Loman 4, Shetley 3.
SALISBURY (47) — Adams 9, Canipe 8, Griffin 8, Woods 7, Robertson 6, J.Petty 4, Duncan 3, Tracey 2, Edwards.
E. Dav. 8 6 13 14 — 41
Salisbury 15 9 11 12 — 47