Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 9, 2014

CHINA GROVE — Senior guard Tre Williams made a second-quarter layup to join the 1,000-point club, and well-prepared Carson fans unfurled a celebratory banner.
Williams became the third Cougar male to reach 1,000, joining Darius Moose and Nick Houston in a small club, but the achievement wouldn’t have meant as much had the Cougars lost. They managed to roller-coaster past SPC foe Hickory Ridge 76-73.
“I wasn’t thinking about the 1,000,” Williams said. “Just trying to find a way to win the game.”
Carson won it because Colton Laws, who boosted his own career total to 991, scored 29 points, the most he’s ever scored in a league game. While it was arguably the best game of Laws’ life, it definitely was the best of Andrew Hower’s. Hower’s career-high 14, included two huge shots.
“Hower is a great athlete and he had a confidence-building game,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “Tre getting his 1,000th point at home was awesome, and it was just a great team win because we responded and fought after we fell behind. There are an awful lot of good things to point at.”
Hickory Ridge (4-9, 2-5) got 26 points from Avery Metcalf and despite its record is no pushover.
“The biggest thing was we didn’t drop our heads tonight when we got down,” Laws said. “We kept playing as a team.”
The Cougars (9-5, 4-3) had one of their best starts, with Hower knocking down two early 3s. When Laws drilled a 3-pointer early in the second quarter, Carson’s lead stood at 34-20.
But the Bulls closed the half strong and made it to the break down 43-37. That momentum carried over, and Metcalf caught fire as the second half opened.
With two minutes left in the third quarter, the Bulls were up 57-49. In a 12-minute stretch, they had outscored Carson 37-15, and the Cougars were in trouble.
“We got a timeout there, and Coach told us we had to calm down and we had to continue to fight,” Jonathan Rucker said. “And then we had a run that gave us life.”
Rucker’s 3-pointer from the right wing started it. Then Jacob Raper swished a 3, and then Hower hit one.
In less than a minute, Carson went from down eight to a 58-57 lead.
“It’s very tough to contain No. 33 (Laws) inside, and then they started getting the ball to open shooters and making 3s,” HR coach Robert Machado said. “In just three possessions, our nice lead is gone.”
It see-sawed from there.
A three-point play by Jaylen Stowe gave the Ragin’ Bulls a 73-70 lead with less than a minute left, but Hower swooped for a soaring reverse that cut Carson’s deficit to one.
A steal by Raper led to two free throws by Laws with 39 seconds left, and Carson was back up 74-73.
Laws and Hower created a steal on a defensive stand, and Williams cashed in two free throws for a 76-73 lead with 10 seconds left.
HR’s Nick Hough had a chance to tie, but he missed from the right corner.
“We had a good look at it, and then even an offensive rebound after that,” Machado said. “We just ran out of time before we could get the ball to another shooter.”
The Cougars breathed a sigh of relief, and Williams will always remember his 1,000th point came in a win.
“He’s been a great point guard here a long time,” Laws said. “And he’s been a great teammate.”
HICKORY RIDGE (73) — Av. Metcalf 28, Stowe 11, Salmon 8, Garner 8, Hough 6, An. Metcalf 5, Babson 5, Tibbs 2.
CARSON (76) — Laws 29, Hower 14, Williams 10, Raper 9, Rucker 7, Stout 4, McCain 3, Isom.
Hick. Ridge 18 19 20 16 — 73
Carson 26 17 15 18 — 76