Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 28, 2013
SALISBURY — The Carson Cougars pulled away from a tight game in the second half Friday afternoon and made a little history in the process.
After trailing throughout a physical first half with West Rowan, the Cougars took control inside and in transition to claim a 62-46 semifinal win in the Sam Moir Christmas Classic at Goodman gym.
Center Colton Laws (26 points) and point guard Tre Williams (21) outscored the Falcons by themselves while bulky forward Myquon Stout with 20 rebounds almost outrebounded West (28 boards) by himself.
The key benefit of this winning effort for Carson (8-3) is their first ever berth in the championship game of the Moir. The Cougars face top seed North Rowan tonight at 7:30 p.m.
“We kept ourselves in the game and kind of hung around”, Cougar Coach Brian Perry said. “Then in the second half we made a nice run and were able to stretch the lead a little.”
Perry had special praise for Williams for directing the attack and attacking the press. He also praised Laws and Stout for their dominating inside play especially in the second half.
Carson outrebounded West (7-4) by a remarkable 46-28 margin. It also uncorked their transition game in the second half, outscoring West 40-22. Then the Cougars wrapped it all up by nailing their free throws down the stretch.
“In the second half we showed patience and were not afraid to come to the ball and make plays,” Williams said. “We played together as a team and when you do that you can beat good teams like West.”
Laws,a 6-7 senior, went down midway in the second quarter with a bloody nose and lip. “I caught a flying elbow in the face but I am fine,” he said.
He responded in the second half by racking up 20 of his 26 points including a pair of 3-point plays.
“We were able to push the ball really good,” Laws said of their second half surge. “Tre is such a good point guard and gets the ball to us inside.”
It was a different story in the first half as Devin Parks sparked the Falcons to an early lead with a pair of 3s. Parks scored 11 of his team-high 18 in the first half as West maintained a slim but steady margin.
Then the momentum flipped to Carson in the third quarter as Stout hit a pair of lay-ups, Laws converted an and-one chance then another layup.
Carson went ahead 34-26 midway in the third and never relinquished the lead from there. The score reached 44-34 as the final quarter opened but 3s by Parks and Daisean Reddick enabled West to close within 46-41 at 4:33.
Laws then connected on another and-one play in transition and added a lay-up to widen the gap to 51-43. From there he, Williams and Marques McCain nailed nine of 10 free throws in the final two minutes to spread the margin to the final 62-46.
“Give all the credit to Carson,” West Coach Mike Gurley stated. “They outrebounded us, they out executed us and they outplayed us in the second half. We got frustrated, but hopefully we can learn something from this. “
Parks was the only Falcon in double figures with his 18 while Reddick had eight. West’s top scorers Seth Martin and Celexus Long were not offensive factors in the game with six and four respectively.
Carson just needed four players to account for all their scoring with Laws and Williams leading the way. Stout notched nine to go with his personal best 20 rebounds while McCain had six.
Now the Cougars are in the championship for the first time in their eight year history. “We are happy to be there,” Perry said, “But we want to perform well and give whoever we play a real battle”
CARSON (62) — Laws 26, Williams 21, Stout 9, McCain 6, Raper, Rucker, Hower, Isom, Herron, Hogue.
WEST ROWAN (46) — Parks 18, Reddick 8, Martin 6, Joseph 6, Long 4, Tucker 2, Hassard 2, Weeks, Caldwell, Phillips, Quarles.
Carson 9 13 20 20 — 62
W. Rowan 12 12 10 12 — 46