BREVARD — Former Jesse Carson High teammates Darius Moose and Nick Houston brought out the best in each other on Saturday in the mountains.
Moose, a junior who has become one of the SAC’s top players, carried Brevard with 32 points. Houston scored 10 points and helped Catawba beat the Tornados 85-79.
It was the second straight SAC win for the Indians, who put six men in double figures and got 18 points from Kijuan Arrington and 17 from Tyrece Little.
“We played pretty good and we got to 4-4 in the conference,” Houston said. “We played together and we had a lot of guys scoring. We needed it from a lot of guys because Moose was all over the place for Brevard. He was pulling up for jumpers, he was making 3s, he was getting to the basket, and he was killing us down low.”
The 6-foot-3 Moose, Carson’s all-time scoring leader and fifth in Rowan County history with 1,768 points, scored the first eight for Brevard (3-9, 3-5) on three layups and a jumper.
“I made some shots early, got a good feel and got pretty comfortable,” Moose said.
It was tight most of the first half, but Catawba scored the last six points on layups by Vismantas Marijosius, Elon Edwards and Houston for a 47-37 halftime lead.
“Nick drove right by his man for a layup,” Moose said. “He showed today he can do things besides shoot. I didn’t see him drive like that much in high school.”
Catawba coach Jim Baker expected Catawba to build on that lead in the second half, but the Indians (4-8) couldn’t put the game away.
“I thought at any moment we were going to blow it open, but Moose was scoring a lot 1-on-1,” Baker said. “We made him work for most of those 32 points, but he just went off on us.”
Moose entered the game third in the league in scoring and also ranked in the top 10 in rebounding and assists.
“We started doubling down on Moose, and he was kicking out to open shooters and some guys who hadn’t been making shots started making some 3s,” Baker said. “They stayed in it.”
Moose made two free throws with 2:15 remaining to get Brevard within 78-77, but clutch free throws by Little and Arrington pushed Catawba to the win. Little made two huge ones with 1:22 on the clock to make it a three-point game.
“Arrington and Little made big plays and big foul shots,” Baker said. “I think we got our mindset back a little bit this week (Catawba won in double overtime against Newberry on Wednesday). We’ve got real good players. We’ve got guys who can run as fast and jump as high as anyone in our league, but we’ve just been beating ourselves. We’re not where we want to be yet, but we’ve taken the first steps to getting there. We played 10 guys significant minutes today and we only had 11 turnovers. That’s a very good sign.”
Moose was impressed with the Indians.
“I really don’t know why Catawba isn’t one of the top teams in the SAC,” he said. “All five guys on the court can score for them. You stop one person, and they just go to somebody else.”
Little added nine rebounds to his points. Edwards scored 12, Julian Sampah jumped off the bench for 11, and Marijosius finished with 10. Jalen Byrd had four assists.
Moose enjoyed being on the floor with Houston again, even though they were on opposite sides. Houston made two 3-pointers.
“It’s always fun playing against Nick,” Moose said. “His teammates got him open for some 3s from the wings and corners, and he played well. We did talk a little bit of trash, but it’s always a friendly conversation.”
Catawba travels to Hartsville, S.C., on Wednesday to play Coker.
CATAWBA (85) — Arrington 18, Little 17, Edwards 12, Sampah 11, Marijosius 10, Houston 10, Perkins 3, Ingram 2, Warren 2, Byrd.
BREVARD (79) — Moose 32, Leathers 15, Pifer 15, Shaw 6, Pickett 5, White 4, Collins 2.
Catawba 47 38 — 85
Brevard 37 42 — 79
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