CHINA GROVE — Hall of Fame play-by-play man Howard Platt was tested on Tuesday.
Describing Carson’s 54-41 win against visiting East Rowan as a solo act on WSAT-1490, Platt was suddenly confronted with an unexpected period of fourth-quarter inactivity.
Down five points, East stayed back in its 2-3 zone, as Carson’s Tre Williams dribbled unmolested for four minutes. Platt filled the time by recalling the college stalls he’d witnessed in the pre-shot clock era.
East coach Trey Ledbetter didn’t send his team out because he wanted to shorten the game. Donte Means had four fouls, and he’s East’s scorer.
Carson coach Brian Perry was content to let Williams dribble and let the clock run.
“I was thinking that maybe we should go ahead and play against the zone,” he said. “But we had our own foul trouble.”
The difference in a game that essentially halted for four minutes was Carson’s D.J. Love. He had the most pep and the hottest hand and keyed the Cougars’ win in the NPC opener for both teams.
Means scored 17 for East, including 11 early. Josh Gobble scored nine. Colton Laws had 17 for the Cougars (4-5), with 15 coming after halftime. Tre Williams scored 10.
East (3-6) came out with greater intensity, got two quicks 3s from Sam Wyrick and six points from Means and led 12-0.
Jacob Raper finally got the Cougars on the board with a drive more than three minutes into the game, but East led 17-10 after a quarter and used a Gobble 3-pointer to take a 29-24 lead to the locker room.
“We shot 1-for-16 on 2-pointers in that first half, and a lot of them were inside,” Ledbetter said. “If we knock just half of those shots down, we’re up 20.”
At halftime, Perry pleaded for intensity to match East’s. Love listened.
“We came out real sluggish,” Love said. “As a senior, I had to be a leader and give us that burst of energy we needed.”
Energy is great. Energy combined with making shots is greater. Love buried three tough shots in a row to wipe out East’s lead, and Rameiq Howard’s bank shot put Carson ahead for the first time at 35-34 with 1:41 left in the third quarter.
When Williams tossed in a bomb at the end of the quarter, Carson led by seven.
Carson led 43-38 when that four-minute possession occurred. Laws was fouled and missed a free throw after action resumed, but after Williams and Howard kept the ball alive, Laws got the stickback that broke the backs of the Mustangs.
“We talk a lot about being 11 strong and not having to rely on just one or two,” Perry said. “East did a good job against Colton and Tre tonight, but D.J. really sparked us. He brought the energy.”
EAST ROWAN (41) — Means 17, Gobble 9, Sa. Wyrick 8, Corpening 6, Honeycutt 1, L’Hommedieu, Edwards, Se. Wyrick.
CARSON (54) — Laws 17, Williams 10, Raper 9, Love 8, McCain 5, Stout 3, Howard 2, Hower, Purcell, Parker.
E. Rowan 17 12 7 5 — 41
Carson 19 11 10 14 — 54