Catawba men prevail on Senior Day

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 22, 2014

SALISBURY — Catawba’s Senior Day was a quiet affair, with reserve Chris Watson the only honoree.
But Watson did his part to make it a memorable day. He shot 3-for-3, scored 10 points and helped Catawba end an ugly skid with a 90-79 SAC victory.
“Chris plays hard in practice every time, so we had confidence in him from the jump when he started today,” Catawba star Tyrece Little said. “We knew he’d go out with a bang, and we’re proud of him.”
The Indians (7-17, 7-13), who will end their season next weekend, had lost three in a row and seven of eight before pulling away from a Brevard team that couldn’t match Catawba’s depth.
Catawba had a 29-2 edge in points off the bench, and there were stretches when Catawba reserve Vismantas Marijosius (16 points, 13 rebounds) was the dominant player on the floor.
Despite its record (4-20, 4-16), Brevard looked good in the first half, shot 51.5 percent and took a 48-45 lead to the locker room.
Brevard still led 61-57 after former Carson hero Darius Moose drove for a layup with 13:45 remaining, but Catawba caught up with 3-pointers by Jalen Byrd and Elon Edwards.
Catawba led 65-63 at the media timeout with 11:40 remaining. That’s when sophomore point guard Edwards, who had 19 points, five 3-pointers and eight assists, offered an observation to coach Jim Baker.
“I told Coach that Brevard was getting tired,” Edwards said. “It was time to try to run them, and we did. We started getting layups, open 3s, easy shots.”
While Catawba spurted ahead by 12 on free throws by Kijuan Arrington (18 points), the lead was back down to 84-78 with 2:10 remaining when Marijosius missed a 3-pointer from the right corner. But the 6-foot-8 Little out-fought two Tornados for the board and kicked the ball out to an open Edwards. The 3-pointer Edwards hit from the left wing was the dagger that finally put the Tornados away.
“When it left Elon’s hands, I knew it was in,” Little said. “That shot was the finishing touch.”
Brevard shot 34.4 percent in the second half, including 2-for-14 on 3-pointers.
“We wore them down some, and we had a group out there that really played well together,” Baker said. “For a few minutes there, we looked like the team of old, making that extra pass and taking good shots.”
Miles Leathers scored 25 for Brevard, but the Indians played good defense on Moose. Little and Marijosius, both much taller, were able to neutralize Moose and held him to 15 points.
“They both did a good job denying the ball,” Moose said. “And if I got past them, I usually had to beat a help guy too. But mostly it was us not making free throws in the second half and giving up too many offensive boards. I think we just ran out of gas.”
The taste of victory returned to Goodman Gym on Saturday, and it felt good for all the guys in white.
“I’m happy for Chris Watson,” Edwards said. “I told him if he got to play, I’d be looking for him. I drove hard and tried to draw his man, and when I got him the ball, he knocked shots down.”
Baker praised Watson as well.
“Chris played a lot more last season, but then he got caught in a numbers game this year with our youth movement,” Baker said. “But he’s a great kid and he’ll graduate as a biology major. That’s pretty good.”
Catawba is at Queens Wednesday and is at league champ Lincolm Memorial Saturday. After that, it will be time to think about next season.

BREVARD (79) — Leathers 25, Shaw 19, Moose 15, Moe 10, Pickett 8, Pifer 2, Collins, White, Neal.
CATAWBA (90) — Edwards 19, Arrington 18, Marijosius 16, Little 12, Watson 10, Byrd 6, Sampah 4, Houston 3, Henderson, Perkins, Emerson.
Brevard 48 31 — 79
Catawba 45 45 — 90