SALISBURY — Turning Salisbury soccer star John Canipe loose in a sport in which he can use his hands is almost unfair.
Canipe hit the pivotal shot of the Hornets’ 88-82 overtime win against South Iredell on Tuesday.
The Hornets trailed 80-79 in OT when Canipe, who mostly pounds away in the post, decided to drill a go-ahead 3-pointer. Coach Jason Causby did a classic no-no-no-yes-yes-yes on the sideline as Canipe’s shot swished, and his teammates, who could finally sense the game swinging their way, went crazy.
“We all wanted John to take that shot and we all believed he would make it,” said Salisbury guard DeShawn Troutman. “Our bigs did a great job of shooting the basketball.”
Troutman and smooth wide body D.J. Alexander turned in tremendous games for the Hornets with 23 points apiece, and Corban Usry (17), M.J. Rayner (10) and Canipe (10) joined them in double figures.
Salisbury (3-1) needed five guys in double digits to survive an onslaught by South Iredell guard Tyzden Graham, who scored 32 points and threw in some early 3-balls from the tennis courts.
South Iredell got 23 points, 19 in the second half, from Sage Knox, a 6-foot-5 guy with lots of hops and no hint of shyness. When Knox fouled out with 2:04 left in regulation, he bowed to a Salisbury student section that was pleased to see him go.
South Iredell still led by three when Knox exited, but it didn’t have enough scorers to hang on.
“It was fun and it was exciting,” Salisbury coach Jason Causby said. “It was just a great test for us, and I’m happy we won.”
Graham made three 3s to shoot his team into a 23-16 lead.
“They were making everything early,” Usry said. “But I think that’s when we started playing harder and started playing together a lot better. It was a good effort.”
A scoring flurry by Rayner lifted the Hornets to a 37-all halftime tie.
“We got down, but we reined in all those jumpers we were shooting and started attacking,” Causby said. “On every possession, we wanted to at least let D.J. touch it, and we wanted every possession to be going to the rim.”
Knox got hot to put South Iredell back ahead, and the Hornets trailed most of the fourth quarter by three or four points.
Troutman and Alexander combined for 18 points in that fourth quarter, and Troutman just kept getting to the rim for layups or drawing contact as he drove.
With 15 seconds left, Troutman made the two free throws that tied it 77-all.
“Free throws are a big deal for us,” Causby said. “Missing free throws hurt us in our loss to West Rowan and we missed 20 free throws tonight, and that’s a lot of points to leave out on the floor. But at the end, we did make some clutch ones. We made enough to get to overtime.”
South Iredell (0-2) was on fumes by overtime. Graham was cramping, another Viking had joined Knox on the bench with five fouls, and another had been lost to injury.
SI shotblocker Tavion Saddler stunned everyone with a 3-pointer that put his team ahead 80-79 in the overtime, but Canipe’s clutch 3 answered immediately.
Troutman made a free throw to put the Hornets ahead 83-80, and Graham was called for a walk when he tried to spin out of a double-team. After two more Troutman free throws and a move by Alexander, it was time for the Hornets to celebrate.
“We played with energy when we stopped shooting and started attacking,” Troutman said. “My job was to try to go by my man on every possession, to try to create for myself or my teammates.”
SOUTH IREDELL (82) — Graham 32, Knox 23, Summers 8, Saddler 6, Stockton 4, Je. Phillips 4, Ja. Phillips 2, Houston 2, Harrington 1.
SALISBURY (82) — Alexander 23, Troutman 23, Usry 17, Rayner 10, Canipe 10, Fazia 2, Brown 2, Petty 1, Oats.
S. Iredell 23 14 16 24 5— 82
Salisbury 16 21 14 26 11— 88