GRANITE QUARRY — Even in his dreams, Carson guard Jacob Raper doesn’t make every single shot, but they were all going in on Thursday.
Three minutes into the second half, Raper had outscored East Rowan’s team, and his stunning 20-point effort keyed second-place Carson’s 60-46 NPC win over the Mustangs.
“Raper was hot, and we were not,” summed up East Rowan coach/poet Trey Ledbetter. “The gameplan was to make Carson shoot deep 3s. Raper forced us out of that gameplan.”
Raper came in averaging 7.2 points a game, so it’s not like he never scores. Still, you don’t expect him to knock down six 3s in one evening.
“I felt it in warmups,” Raper said with a grin. “I just started shooting.”
East’s zone defense was packed around 6-foot-6 Colton Laws, and the Mustangs also weren’t giving crafty guard Tre Williams any room.
Laws and Williams are Carson’s scoring leaders, and both were shut out in an ugly first quarter that ended with the Cougars ahead 9-5.
“Everybody says they don’t play well against us,” Ledbetter said. “But I think part of that is that our defense is pretty staunch. We’ve just got to find some way to put the ball in the hole.”
East (4-12, 1-5) has topped 60 just twice this season and Carson (11-7, 5-1) yields points grudgingly, so the Mustangs weren’t expected to score frequently. And they didn’t.
“We defended well in the first half,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “We only score 24, but we’ve still got an 11-point lead.”
Fourteen of Carson’s first-half 24 came from Raper. He buried three 3s in the second quarter. He made it 14-8, and then 17-8, and then 20-11.
“Raper’s shooting is a dimension we really need,” Perry said. “And he was on fire.”
He wasn’t done. In the third quarter, Raper drilled two more 3s for Carson leads of 31-16 and 34-19.
When Raper made it 34-19 with 5:13 left in the third quarter, he had personally outscored East 20-19. He didn’t score again, but other Cougars were ready to take it from there.
East got its offense going some in the third quarter. Josh Moses supplied a burst of energy. Josh Gobble hit a 3-pointer. Conor Honeycutt got five of his 15, and seven different Mustangs scored in the period.
“East started scoring, but those 3s Raper made were big and kept some space between us,” Perry said.
Tyler L’Hommedieu made a tough fadeaway shot — degree of difficulty was 9.9 — just before the end of the third quarter to pull East within 41-30.
East’s fate was sealed by a weird play early in the fourth quarter. Carson’s Rameiq Howard got loose inside with the Cougars leading 45-32, and L’Hommedieu tried to block his shot, lost his balance and grabbed Howard as he broke his fall.
Howard went up for the shot — NBA continuation at its best — and made it. The bucket counted, and L’Hommedieu was whistled for an intentional foul to the amazement of Ledbetter. Ledbetter barked something that rhymes with “Bull Spit” and was saddled with a technical.
Then Carson shot free throws, a bunch of them. And then the Cougars got possession and D.J. Love nailed a jumper. It was a seven-point trip, the lead was 20, and it was over.
It definitely was Raper’s night, but Love (11 points) and Howard (nine points) were key factors.
“Rameiq defended well and rebounded well, and D.J. was very good again,” Perry said.
Carson held a foe under 50 for the ninth time and is 9-0 in those games.
CARSON (60) — Raper 20, Love 11, Howard 9, Laws 8, Williams 8, McCain 4, Hower, Purcell.
EAST ROWAN (46) — Honeycutt 15, Edwards 8, Gobble 7, Means 6, L’Hommedieu 3, Se. Wyrick 3, Moses 2, Corpening 2, Bell, Sa. Wyrick, Brown.
Carson 9 15 17 19 — 60
E. Rowan 5 8 17 16 — 46
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