Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 21, 2013

CONCORD — Carson’s boys basketball team got to hang with the SPC’s elite team Friday night.
And for two-and-a-half quarters the Cougars gave league-leading Concord a true fight for its money.
“I think we gave them a fight,” coach Brian Perry said after visiting Carson was subdued 83-74. “We laid it on the line. We just turned it over way too much in the third quarter and it cost us.”
It became a night filled with what-ifs and might-have-beens for the Cougars (6-3, 3-2). They seemed to match Concord (7-1, 5-0) razzle-for-dazzle in the first half, when 6-foot-5 senior Colton Laws scored 18 of his team-high 23 points.
“And the funny thing is it was questionable whether or not I was going to play,” said Laws, who bruised his tailbone in Wednesday’s non-conference win against Salisbury. “But the trainers were great and I got stretched out. In the first quarter I was able to get some fastbreak looks and Tre (Williams) is a great passer.”
None of that was lost on first-year Concord coach George Walker. “We couldn’t guard No. 10 (Williams) all night,” he said afterward. “He just made play after play after play. And 33 (Laws) was a monster. The way he runs the floor is amazing.”
Carson was at its high-octane best in the first half. Laws made six baskets in the first period as the Cougars served notice by hanging around. They went ahead for the first time when Jonathan Rucker hit a 10-foot jumper from the right side, providing a 26-25 lead with 7:18 remaining in the half. After falling behind, Carson regained the lead on a pair of free throws by Laws with 2:01 on the clock.
“We all knew Colton was hurting,” Williams said after netting 13 points. “We also knew if we could get him the ball he could play through the pain.”
Carson led 40-36 at halftime after junior Darren Isom hit a pair of turnaround layups in the final minute. And when Williams muscled in for a layup to open the third quarter, the Cougars had their widest margin.
“We had just settled down and kind of came into our own,” Perry said. “But then everybody started flying around again and we started turning it over at the wrong time.”
On a night when Carson played without Shrine Bowl participant Myquon Stout, mistakes had to minimized.
“They’re a good team,” Williams said. “They know how to do their stuff. They press and get what they want out of you.”
The game turned midway through the third quarter when Concord senior Connor Burchfield caught fire. A William & Mary signee, he drained a fadeaway 3-pointer that put the Spiders up 50-49 with three minutes to play in the period. Before the quarter was over he added a spin-around jumper from inside the lane, a 10-footer from the right baseline and finally a three from the parking lot that gave Concord a 62-53 lead after three.
“Connor’s become a team leader,” Walker said after Burchfield paced all scorers with 28 points. “When there’s a big shot to be taken, he wants the ball.”
Added Laws: “He just sees the court so well. He always knows where the defenders are.”
CARSON (74) — Laws 23, Williams 13, McCain 13, Rucker 8, Raper 7, Isom 4, Hower 4, Herron 2, Hogue.
CONCORD (83) — Burchfield 28, Alexander 14, Childress 11, Burk 11, Black 10, Pruette 4, Cassell 3, Lynch 2.

Carson 22 18 13 21 — 74
Concord 25 11 26 21 — 83