STATESVILLE — In a tougher-than-expected game, the Carson Cougars used balanced scoring to hold off West Iredell 67-57 Friday night and keep a firm grip on second place in the North Piedmont Conference.
Carson put four players in double figures, led by Tre Williams with 18 points to improve to 3-1 in the NPC, 9-7 overall. They had to overcome some foul problems and the absence of 6-6 center Colton Laws, who sat out with a bad ankle. But Williams, DJ Love and Marquez McCain made the key shots when the game turned tense to assure a key road win.
Building on a strong first half, the Cougars pulled out to a 17 point lead, 50-33, midway in the third period. But the host Warriors refused to go away as their deliberate offensive attack and the deadly scoring duo of Troy Sells ad Lance Johnson made it interesting down the stretch. The big Cougar lead dwindled to nine with just over three minutes to play.
“We were lucky to get out of here with a win,” Carson Coach Brian Perry said, “West Iredell played a great game and got it within single digits in the fourth quarter.”
The Warriors were able to consistently break Johnson and Sells free in their passing attack for short jumpers and the occasional three. As a result, the duo scored 25 points each, or 50 of the team’s 57 points.
“That’s our game,” first year Warrior Coach Matt Miller stated. “We have to be patient because we can’t run with these cats. We had to limit their possessions and keep ours going as long as we could.”
The Cougars held off the late surge thanks to key stops by their defense and crucial baskets by Williams, McCain and Love in the final three minutes.
Carson actually seemed to be in good shape with 4:22 left when Jacob Raper hit his third long range bomb to make the score 61-48. But two steals by Sells led to two baskets by Johnson to suddenly cut the margin to 61-52.
Carson responded with a key rebound by Love that led to foul shots; a driving layup by McCain; then another muscle shot inside by Williams to keep the Warriors (0-4, 2-10) from getting closer. The defense did their part as well with 2:15 left when Williams drew a charge on a baseline drive by Sells that would have cut the margin to seven.
“Several kids on our team stepped up at critical times to make the big play, “Perry said. “We just barely kept our distance plus we kept competing when things weren’t going our way.”
Carson actually trailed 8-7 in the early going but put together a 13-0 run to lead 20-8 early in the second quarter. A pair of long threes by Raper and another by Andrew Hower provided the firepower while a succession of steals off the press by the defense helped the cause. Love, Myquon Stout and McCain had two steals each that led to a scoring drought for West covering almost six minutes on the clock.
Love still felt the team could improve on the effort. “No ,we gotta get better,” he said. “We had too many fouls and we need to move our feet on defense. But we won.”
Senior forward Ramiq Howard took up the slack inside for the Cougars with 10 points and six rebounds.
CARSON (67) — Williams 18, McCain 12, Love 11, Howard 10, Raper 9, Stout 4, Hower 3, Purcell, Bearden.
WEST IREDELL (57) —Sell 25, Johnson 25, Boggs 3, Clayton 2, Allison 2, Keaton, Messick, Weaver.
Carson 15 21 16 15 — 67
W. Iredell 8 15 15 19 — 57