Published 12:00 am Friday, February 15, 2013

OLIN — It’s a rarity for Carson boys basketball when fingernails aren’t chewed and hearts don’t pound, but the Cougars won one easily on Thursday.
They spoiled North Iredell’s Senior Night emphatically as 6-foot-6 junior Colton Laws scored 19 points in a 64-40 NPC victory.
“Carson had a lot to play for — they were playing for a tie for second place,” NI coach Brian Cantrell said. “And they played well. They played like a second-place team.”
It was expected to be much closer. Carson was, after all, making a long road trip following a draining loss to West Rowan, and North Iredell is the fourth-place finisher in the NPC and a state-playoff team unless weird stuff happens in the conference tournament.
“North Iredell is usually a tough place for us to play and they usually play very well at home,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “But we obviously couldn’t let that loss to West Rowan linger, and we addressed that before the game. Then we went out and did a good job.”
On most nights, when Tre Williams scores only one more point than Andrew Purcell, the Cougars are in trouble, but even with Williams scoring only four and being shut out until late in the third quarter, Carson flourished.
The Cougars (15-9, 9-3) posted the second-best conference record in school history, behind only the 2010 team that went 10-2 in league play.
Carson took charge quickly. When Williams hit ahead to Laws for a fast-break layup four minutes in, the Cougars led 9-0.
“They took us out of everything we wanted to do,” Cantrell said. “You want to play well on Senior Night and you want to be playing well for momentum going into the conference tournament and playoffs, but we didn’t. We always want to play with heart and desire, but we didn’t. That’s why this one hurts.”
With Jacob Raper nailing two first-half 3s and scoring 10 points, the Cougars took a 33-17 lead to the locker room, and North Iredell (9-13, 5-7) never threatened after halftime.
“We just put our minds to it and came out and played our hardest,” Laws said. “We pushed the ball on offense and we tried to contest every shot on defense. They’re a quick team, but they’re small. They have one big guy (6-4 soph Bradley Chambers). We knew we might have to front him if he was killing us, but usually we were able to push him off the block.”
Not a lot went wrong for Carson.
“Raper was hot early. D.J. Love was soaring on the glass. Marquez MaCain was aggressive, and Rameiq Howard made his presence known,” Perry said. “A lot of guys contributed, and we didn’t have many letups on defense.”
Carson plays a first-round tournament game at home Monday. A draw involving Carson and West Rowan will determine the No. 2 seed.

CARSON (64) — Laws 19, Raper 10, McCain 9, Love 9, Howard 7, Williams 4, Purcell 3, Stout 3, Hower.
NORTH IREDELL (40) — Chambers 12, Mullins 8, Grinton 5, Ely 4, Ruppe 4, Pruitt 3, Hartness 2, Holland 2, Nolen.

Carson 13 20 12 19 — 64

N. Iredell 8 9 8 15 — 40