Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 13, 2013
SALISBURY — Senior Night brings out the emotion in everyone and often it brings out the best in great athletes.
Salisbury senior Keion Adams has had a relatively quiet basketball career — at least when compared to his seriously impactful football career in the gold, red and black of the Hornets.
But in Tuesday’s CCC game, Adams played hoops the way he plays linebacker and his attacking mentality led Salisbury to a physical 65-60 win over Thomasville.
Adams scored a career-best 21 — with 18 points coming in the second half.
“That’s the game we’ve been trying to coax out of Keion for about three years,” Salisbury coach Jason Causby said with a smile.
Adams’ previous career best was 15 points against South Rowan in this season’s Christmas tournament. Senior Night marked the first time in his career that Adams has scored in double figures against a CCC opponent, so it’s no wonder dapper Thomasville coach Tony Clark was shaking his head.
“That No. 4 (Adams) had an amazing game for them,” he said.
The stats were a little crazy. Salisbury (8-15, 4-5) won despite making zero 3-pointers. But the Hornets attacked the rim constantly in the second half and got to the foul line frequently. They shot 31-for-45 on free throws.
“I was kind of shocked that I was shooting so many foul shots — and shocked that so many of them were going in,” chuckled Adams, who made 11 free throws. “My teammates kept giving me good passes and putting me in position to score.”
Adams got offensive help from veterans Buster Hillie (12 points) and Tyler Petty (nine points) and freshman Donnell Alexander (nine points).
The Bulldogs (6-14, 2-7) got double-digit scoring from Kamel Henry (16), Demoris Payne (12), Ike Marsh (11) and Dwain Purvis (11).
Salisbury, which moved into a three-way tie for third in the CCC with Lexington and West Davidson, has improved in recent weeks, but it struggled to execute in a first half that was dominated by the visitors.
“I was very disappointed with how we played,” Causby said. “But I was not surprised at how well Thomasville played. When it’s Thomasville and Salisbury, everyone always competes like crazy.”
Splashing 3s and ouscrapping the Hornets for putbacks, Thomasville led by as many as 13 points before settling for a 31-22 halftime lead.
“Our effort has never been a question, and we played hard again,” Clark said. “Things just turned against us in the second half with a rebound here and a rebound there. Salisbury played very hard in the second half.”
Causby should bottle his halftime speech. He said he “chewed on” his team, and the Hornets responded.
When Adams stormed to the rack for a three-point play, the Bulldogs’ lead was chopped to four, and when Hillie weaved through traffic for a lay-in it was only two. The Hornets caught up and went ahead 43-42 at the end of the third quarter when Adams scored by assaulting the offensive glass.
Clark kept raising his arms hopefully whenever a Bulldog launched a 3-pointer, but their bombs had stopped falling in the second half. Still, they kept battling, and they led for the last time at 54-52 with 2:08 remaining.
DeShawn Troutman hit two free throws to tie it for SHS, and then Adams made the play of the night — and maybe the century. At the 1:34 mark, he went airborne to pick off a pass at midcourt, and then he drove and finished. Touchdown, Hornets, and they were ahead to stay.
“I read the passer’s eyes just like I was on the football field, I stepped in, and I was able to take it all the way,” Adams said. “It was a great feeling to be able to do well with a big crowd here. You want people to remember that you played well on Senior Night.”
THOMASVILLE (60) —Henry 16, Payne 12, Marsh 11, Purvis 11, Davis 8, Wilson 2, Johnson, Ray.
SALISBURY (65) — Adams 21, Hillie 12, T. Petty 9, Alexander 9, Fazia 5, Troutman 3, J. Petty 2, Brown 2, Burges 1, Usry 1,
Thomasville 17 14 11 18— 60
Salisbury 12 10 21 22— 65