SALISBURY — Carson didn’t need a lot of breaks in its opening game of the Moir Christmas Classic.
The Cougars just maintained steadfast professionalism and disposed of county rival South Rowan quickly and efficiently in a 51-25 win Thursday night.
Carson scored the game’s first 15 points and watched its lead increase to 33-5 at halftime to move on to this afternoon’s semifinal against Salisbury at 3 p.m.
Thursday, they worked off any holiday-break sluggishness and were thoroughly in control from the opening tip.
“We did a good job of coming in and setting the tone in the first half,” Carson coach Brooke Misenheimer said. “Our ultimate goal is win this thing. We’ve got to focus on Game 1.”
Carson’s Kate Cole and Kelly Dulkoski scored 13 points each in the opening half. The Cougars, who fell in their first appearance in the Moir championship last year, looked hell-bent on playing for the crown again. The Cougars won their 10th straight after starting the season with a loss at Central Davidson.
“My shot was just on,” said Cole, who was 5 for 8 from the field and hit three 3-pointers. “Coach talked to us about starting the game out strong so I was focused on that this game.”
Dulkoski and Cole sunk back-to-back 3’s to start the game and Katherine Barringer hit a jumper afterwords. Dulkoski grabbed a steal off an inbounds pass and hit a layup for a 10-0 lead and forced South coach Jarrod Smith to call timeout.
The Raiders were only 2 of 23 from the field in the first half.
“Offensively I thought we were getting shots that we could hit,” Smith said. “None of them went in. So when they don’t go in, you’ve got to play better defense. Defensively, we played very poor.”
Carson (10-1) held the Raiders scoreless for the first 6:36 of the game and the entire second quarter. Dulkoski, who finished with a team-high 15 points, scored the next five on a trey and two free throws to complete the 15-0 run to start the game. Cassidy Chipman hit and a jumper and Locklear converted a 3-point play to pull South within 15-5 but it would get no closer.
“We knew we could run it,” Cole said. “We kept trying to push the ball.”
You didn’t have to be a statistics major to figure out the second quarter. Carson outscored South 16-0 as the Raiders were without even a trip to the free throw line. Cole hit a 3 to start the quarter and got a steal and layup that made it 28-5. A trey and a deuce from Allison Blackwell gave the Cougars a 28-point edge at the break.
“We just weren’t coming down on their shooters,” Smith said. “We tried to go man and we started trying to help out too much off the shooters. It was frustrating because I felt like we got good shots but weren’t making them.”
South sophomore Avery Locklear had an uncharacteristic 4 for 18 night from the field and the Raiders committed 24 turnovers. South (3-8) was 11 of 42 from the field for the game as Locklear (11 points) was the only one in double figures. The Raiders play East Rowan, who was edged 51-47 by Salisbury, today at noon.
Carson led 43-15 after three quarters and got its largest lead at 48-15.
South outscored Carson 20-18 in the second half, but the Cougars were getting rest for studs Dulkoski and Blackwell (8 points, 10 rebounds). Cole finished with 13 points after a quiet second half.
“It’s great when you can get a win and have everyone contribute,” Misenheimer said. “I think our rebounding’s got to be better because Salisbury’s going to crash the boards tomorrow night.”
SOUTH ROWAN (25) — Locklear 11, Bost 6, Chipman 4, Kac.Stamey 2, Hubbard 2, McClendon , Honeycutt, Davis, Kam. Stamey, Martin.
CARSON (51) — Dulkoski 15, Cole 13, Blackwell 8, Barringer 8, Allen 4, Huffman 3, Parks, Clark, Gray, VanCoorhis.
S. Rowan 5 0 10 10 — 25
Carson 17 16 10 8 — 51