Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 10, 2013
CHINA GROVE — A.L. Brown’s David Tripp took off from just past the foul line and tried to dunk the ball over Carson Shrine Bowler MyQuon Stout, 250 pounds of immovable, rippling muscle.
Tripp didn’t make the jam, but he did draw a foul, and that reckless-abandon play may have been Monday’s biggest. It established the Wonders’ aggressive mindset and they attacked down to the final horn in a surprising 65-62 victory in Carson’s gym.
“We were 0-2, so we came in here with a lot to prove,” Tripp said. “We’re just trying to get on the map. We want people to talk about us the way they did last year’s team.”
Derrick Copeland, Tydus Parks, Tevin Stark and the rest of a high-powered, high-flying group are gone, but Tripp scored 22 points to lead five new starters, and Jaylon Neal produced 14.
Tre Williams had 15 points for the Cougars. Marquez McCain had 12, and Colton Laws added 11.
The Wonders (1-2) won their first after tight losses to South Rowan and Central Cabarrus, while Carson (3-1) lost for the first time.
That did not appear to be a possibility at halftime when Carson led 36-22 and appeared to be in complete control.
“Well, Coach (Shelwyn) Klutz told us at halftime that we could lay down, take the ‘L’ and get on the bus or we could fight back,” A.L. Brown’s Keshawn Watson said. “We chose to fight.”
It was routine for Carson in the first half — the 3s were falling for Jacob Raper, McCain and Williams were getting to the rim, and Stout and Laws were cleaning up.
Coach Brian Perry tried to tell his team at halftime it wasn’t over.
“We were up by 12 at the half at East Friday and had to hang on, so we talked about that,” Perry said. “We talked about going out there and maintaining our intensity, but they hit a few shots and they got excited. And once they got excited, we had a hard time stopping them.”
Jonathan Rucker made some tough shots off the Carson bench, and his 3-pointer with 2:02 left in the third quarter gave the Cougars a 52-38 lead. But from that point forward, the Wonders outscored Carson 27-10.
“They were just more focused than we were,” Rucker said. “We’ve got to use this as a lesson.”
The comeback started with a 3-pointer from deep in the right corner by Damon Johnson. After two quick buckets by Tripp, Carson’s lead was down to seven. Then Tripp tried for his monster slam and the crowd came alive. He made one free throw, and the Wonders were down 52-46.
When Neal drilled a 3-pointer with 4:43 left to play, Carson’s lead had been chopped to 56-55.
“I wanted to win and was ready to step up for this team,” Neal said. “It was time to stop playing scared and to play like we were playing in our own house.”
A patented spin move by Williams put Carson up 60-58 with 2:21 left, but then it was Neal again. With 1:55 on the clock, he buried another 3-ball, and the Wonders led for the first time.
Clutch free throws by Greg Joyner gave the Wonders a 63-60 lead. Williams’ “and-one” with 1:02 left could’ve tied it, but he missed the free throw.
Watson missed a critical one-and one throw for Brown with 30 seconds left, but instead of dropping his head he came up with a crucial steal, and Tripp’s transition layup with 13 seconds left put Brown up 65-62.
Carson wanted to bring Raper off a screen for a 3 on its last possession, but the play broke down. Williams got a decent look at a straightaway 3, but the shot didn’t fall, the rebound battle took several seconds, and the Wonders celebrated.
A.L. BROWN (65) — Tripp 22, Ja. Neal 14, Joyner 7, Bennett 6, Johnson 5, Cagle 4, Williamson 4, Grier 2, Endicott 1, Watson, Harris.
CARSON (62) — Williams 15, McCain 12, Laws 11, Raper 8, Stout 8, Rucker 8, Hower, Herron, Isom.
A.L. Brown 7 15 26 17 — 65
Carson 19 17 18 8 — 62