Prep Basketball: Salisbury girls 54, Central Davidson 49

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 15, 2012

By Mike London
TYRO — Central Davidson coach Kevin Hudson believes that with this year’s new format his team could meet Salisbury in the first round of the 2A playoffs.
“But I hope not,” he said.
Salisbury also hopes not.
The Hornets had their hands full with Central Davidson for the third time in a CCC semifinal on Wednesday before claiming a 54-49 victory and moving on to Friday’s tournament title game.
Doreen Richardson scored 22 points for the top-seeded Hornets (23-2). Brielle Blaire had 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Chandler Young led the fourth-seeded Spartans (15-9) with 15 points. McKenzie Burkhart scored all of her 11 in the second half, and Melissa McMath added 10.
Salisbury beat Central Davidson for the 23rd straight time, but it isn’t business as usual this season for the Hornets. In their 11 CCC matchups, they’ve had eight tough battles, including two OT wins.
“Top to bottom, the league is as good as it’s been,” Hudson said. “There was a time when it was just Salisbury and East Davidson and everyone else scratching, but I’m excited about where we are now.”
Central is highly competitive right now, even after losing leading scorer Paige Chavis and post player Taylor Shoaf to injuries.
Ranked No. 1 in 2A, Salisbury got Vashti Usry and Nyasia Harris back from injuries — and needed them.
“Vashti’s defense was a boost,” Salisbury coach Chris McNeil said. “She got some big deflections.”
Usry’s speed also allowed her to chase down several long rebounds.
Salisbury led 22-9 midway through the second quarter, but Young and McMath ignited a 13-0 Central run to tie it. Salisbury needed a last-second jumper by Richardson for a 24-22 lead at halftime.
Salisbury appeared to have a safe 45-35 lead with 3:40 left to play, but a 3-pointer by Burkhart inspired one last, uphill charge by the Spartans.
“Sometimes you make a shot and that rim starts looking big as the ocean,” McNeil said. “They started shooting with a lot of confidence.”
Salisbury’s lead was down to 45-40 and the crowd was buzzing, but the Hornets ran a calm, patient halfcourt set. Richardson threw over Central’s 2-3 zone to Blaire, and she buried a soft, 15-foot jumper.
Then Daterria Connor yanked down a huge defensive board, got fouled and knocked down two free throws to put Salisbury back up by nine and back in control.
“Central was making a lot of shots,” Connor said. “But we were able to get those points back with rebounding and transition points.”
Both coaches agreed Salisbury is pretty human now.
“They used to be so darn athletic, they could just jump right over you,” Hudson said. “There were times they’ve had five great players and you really didn’t know what to do. Now they’ve got two (Blaire and Richardson) you can focus on, and pray the rest don’t hurt you.”
Connor, Usry and their teammates hurt Central just enough.
“We’ve gone though a lot,” McNeil said. “But we’re still winning.”
CENTRAL DAVIDSON (49) — Young 15, Burkhart 11, McMath 10, Briggs 8, Hedrick 5, Oxendine, Johnson.
SALISBURY (54) — Richardson 22, B. Blaire 19, Caldwell 4, Connor 4, Harman 2, A. Blaire 2, Usry 1, Lattimore, Harris.
C. Davidson 7 15 10 17 — 49
Salisbury 13 11 16 14 — 54