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SALISBURY — Salisbury’s boys played one of their most thrilling games of the season Tuesday night.
Their reward was a trip to the CCC basement.
“We need to be rewarded,” coach Jason Causby said after Austin Miller’s 3-pointer with three seconds to play helped East Davidson escape with a 55-51 victory. “I think we’re as good as anyone in this league when we’re disciplined and play with heart and passion.”
The last-place Hornets (4-14, 0-4) stretched their losing streak to nine games — and did it the hard way. Visiting ED (3-13, 1-3) coughed up a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead in two minutes, then rallied in the waning seconds for its first league win.
“We’ve been close to getting a conference win, so it feels good to get over the hump,” winning coach Matt Jacobs said. “Salisbury probably feels the same way. They’ve had some tough luck.”
The Golden Eagles clearly were in command when Miller penetrated the left side for a layup that gave them a 48-38 with 2:31 remaining. Salisbury’s comeback began innocently enough when freshman Deshawn Troutman launched a 3-pointer that caught nothing but nylon.
“We did some of the little things that (Causby) told us to do,” Troutman said after scoring a team-high 11 points. “But at other times we didn’t. We didn’t execute simple things.”
They did for a while. When Corbin Usry converted both ends of a one-and-one, and freshman Donnell Alexander followed with a three-point play, the Hornets had inched within 49-46 with 1:07 to play.
“Those freshman have been the ones providing energy for us,” Causby said. “When they were in there together, that’s when we had the most cohesiveness.”
Less than a minute remained when Usry stole the ball near midcourt, raced toward the basket and got hacked as he elevated.
His two free throws sliced the deficit to one. Twenty seconds later Alexander kissed a layup off the glass to give SHS its first lead since early in the third period.
“The momentum was in our hands,” Troutman said. “(Alexander) was doing a good job. He was focusing on every play.”
East regained the lead on a Taylor Booze layup and Salisbury knotted the score when Alexander sank a free throw with 9.3 seconds on the clock. That set the stage for Miller, who took a snap pass from Nathan Campbell and launched a rainbow three from the right corner with three seconds left. Causby, for one, was infuriated.
“The way our luck has been going, I figured he’d hit it,” Causby said. “But hey, it’s not hard to hit a wide-open shot. Nobody guarded him. In our huddle I personally gave numbered assignments to everybody. I can’t tell you why he wasn’t covered.”
Jacobs said the play unfolded exactly as he had hoped.
“Everybody did what they were supposed to do,” he said. “Campbell put the pass right on his hands. He was as under control as I’ve ever seen him.”
When it was over and the crowd had filed out, Troutman was asked if the Hornets can dig themselves out of their current mess.
“This was a tough loss,” he said. “But we can still come back and make the state playoffs. We just have to stay humble and keep playing with intensity and enthusiasm. That’s the best thing we can do right now.”
Salisbury, winless since the Sam Moir Christmas Classic, has one last opportunity to win in January when it visits Thomasville in a makeup game tonight.

EAST DAVIDSON (55) — Booze 22, Shetley 15, Johnson 7, Miller 5, Chaney 4, Campbell 2.
SALISBURY (51) — Troutman 11, Usry 8, T.Petty 8, Hillie 7, Alexander 6, J.Petty 5, Adams 4, Brown 2, Frazier, Yang.

E. Davidson 12 6 18 19 — 55

Salisbury 9 11 13 18 — 51

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