CHINA GROVE — Central Davidson’s 6-foot-6 star Chris Pompey had to sit early and late with foul trouble, but his teammates took care of Carson without him.
Central overcame a 13-point, second-half deficit and beat the Cougars 60-57.
“Chris was hurt this summer and we learned how to play without our big man when we have to,” said Will Ramsey, a muscular senior who drove for the night’s biggest bucket.
Not that the springy Pompey wasn’t helpful. He accounted for 26 points in about 19 minutes of action.
Tre Williams scored 15 points for Carson and Colton Laws added 11, but it was another frustrating evening for the Cougars (2-5).
“It was a game we could’ve won,” Laws said. “We just didn’t get enough defensive stops. We couldn’t get the stops at the most important times.”
Carson’s early-season body of work would look different if it had been able to hold leads in two games with Central (4-2).
“We had to come back to beat them at our place too, but what made this one really good for us is that it came on the road,” Central coach Brian Hege explained. “We were just so lethargic early, but I felt like if we could find some energy we could still win.”
D.J. Love had a hot hand in the first quarter for the Cougars. Pompey had seven early points, but when he picked up his second foul, Hege sat him down for the rest of the half.
With Pompey on the bench, Carson controlled the second quarter 18-8, but the Spartans got two buckets from Spencer Snider and were able to stay in the game.
Despite Pompey’s return to the floor, Carson’s 30-23 halftime lead expanded to 13 points three minutes into the third quarter. The Cougars led twice by that unlucky number — 40-27 on a bucket by Marquez McCain and 42-29 when Rameiq Howard muscled home a shot in the lane.
A sweet reverse by Robert Biesecker halted Carson’s momentum. Then Pompey’s sharp bounce pass found a cutting John Hanes for a bucket, Ramsey took a charge, and suddenly the Spartans found that energy they were seeking.
“Coach tells us there’s always a chance to win any game,” Ramsey said. “We just had to pick it up.”
Carson coach Brian Perry has watched leads come and go all season. The Cougars have enough talent to play really well for stretches, but then things even out with a rough patch.
“That’s the story of our life — we’re playing in spurts,” Perry said. “Consistency is 100 percent our issue right now.”
Pompey started cleaning the glass, and the Cougars’ lead was slashed to 42-40 by the end of the third quarter.
Carson stabilized long enough to take a 48-45 lead on a shot by Love with 5:46 remaining, but then it was Pompey time. He registered six straight points, and Central led 51-48 with 4:47 to go.
“It wasn’t like Pompey was whupping us on the block,” Perry said. “He was just sticking misses back in an awful lot.”
As the game headed under the two-minute mark, Williams splashed a long 3-pointer to give the Cougars a 55-54 lead.
Then with 1:48 remaining, Pompey fouled out.
But Carson missed opportunities, and with 50 seconds to go, Ramsey saw an opening and took the ball to the rim.
“The guy guarding me was right up on me, trying to force a turnover, so I took it to the basket,” Ramsey said.
He not only took it, he finished, and Central led 56-55.
Then a deflection by Hanes led to a flying transition layup by Derek Chavis, and Central led by three points.
Williams tried to flip a pass through traffic in the lane to either Love or Laws, but Central hands were everywhere, and it was another turnover.
Ramsey stepped to the line and drilled two clutch free throws with 15 seconds left, and Central had secured another comeback victory.
“We played that fourth quarter with some tenacity and with some purpose,” Hege said. “This was a good win.”
CENTRAL DAVIDSON (60) — Pompey 26, Ramsey 12, Biesecker 5, Hanes 4, Chavis 4, Snider 4, Pigg 3, Walls 2, King.
CARSON (57) — Williams 15, Laws 11, Howard 9, Love 8, Raper 5, Hower 5, McCain 2, Stout 2.
C. Davidson 15 8 17 20 — 60
Carson 12 18 12 15 — 57