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Prep basketball: A.L. Brown girls hold off Carson

CHINA GROVE — Carson senior Alex Allen matched her career high with 25 points, and freshman point guard Olivia Gabriel more than lived up the hype with 20 in her debut.

It still wasn’t enough for Carson to beat visiting A.L. Brown in Thursday’s season opener for both teams. Senior Aitana Grant, a returningAll-Mecka player, scored 17 points and led the Wonders to a 63-56 victory.

“We didn’t rebound — didn’t box out defensively and didn’t crash offensively —  and we didn’t make our layups,” Carson coach Brooke Misenheimer said. “They ran the floor well and they made some big 3s.”

Carson essentially lost the game in the first quarter when it fell behind 17-5.

“They missed their layups early in the game and we made ours,” said A.L. Brown coach Mike Wolford , whose team lost 53-48 to Carson early last season. “That allowed us to get some confidence and the lead. We made too many mistakes, but we hustled and stayed on top.”

Gabriel was  a buzz-saw, darting into the paint for acrobatic shots or dishes to her teammates. Unfortunately for the Cougars, a lot of her dishes resulted in layups that spun in-and-out.

“That little guard was awesome,” Grant said. “She’s got a high basketball I.Q.  It was very hard to keep her out of the lane.”

The Wonders have slashing athletes in Grant and Kayla Downs, but Talethia Alexander, a little guard who usually stations herself 25  feet from the hoop, also hurt the Cougars badly with four 3-pointers.

Allen, who had early foul trouble,  finished the first half with a layup and two free throws, as the Cougars got within 27-18 at the break.

A bucket by Gabriel early in the third quarter got the Cougars within 29-25, but the next three minutes provded decisive. Alexander hit two of her 3-pointers as the Wonders pushed their lead back to double digits, and Grant scored on a transition layup after she swatted a Carson shot.

Allen and Gabriel combined for 22 points in a frenzied fourth quarter, but the Wonders were able to make enough free throws to hold on.

“We’ve got an experienced team this year,” Grant said. “We’ve got  a lot of chemistry now and we worked together well.”

A.L. Brown 63, Carson 56

A.L. BROWN (1-0)

Grant 17, Alexander 14, Downs 9, McCoy 8, Chrismon 5,  Stanback 4, Howard 4, Kituku 2, Irving.

CARSON  (0-1)

Allen 25, Gabriel 20, Huffman 6, Roberson 3, Wiggins 1, Shumaker 1, McClary, Furr, Turney.

A.L. Brown 17  10  17  19 — 63

Carson          5    13  14   24 —56

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