Prep basketball: Carson boys open with victory
CHINA GROVE — A ragged 62-55 victory by an inexperienced Carson boys team over an equally green A.L. Brown team left Carson coach Brian Perry breathing sighs of relief.
“We really don’t have anyone in the same role as they had last year,” Perry said. “We made a ton of mistakes tonight, and I’m just thankful we were able to play this game before we start conference play on Monday.”
Carson graduated Tre Williams and Colton Laws, a pair of 1,200-point scorers from a 17-win team, so things won’t be smooth for a while. All-county guard Marquez McCain, who scored 13, is the most familiar name on Carson’s roster.
Carson’s initial burst that generated an 18-4 lead after five minutes proved to be the difference. The Wonders battled, but they never got all the way back.
“We just missed so many easy shots in close,” said A.L. Brown’s veteran coach Shelwyn Klutz, who got his 18th season under way. “We got down and had to use a lot of energy just to get back in it.”
Klutz is counting on the Neal cousins, point guard Joekeem (22 points) and shooter Jaylon, his two most experienced players. After a disastrous start, Joekeem’s 10-point second quarter got the Wonders back within 31-28 at halftime.
Carson’s rangy freshman Jemarius Hairston flashed all sorts of potential and scored 16 to lead the Cougars.
“Usually you’ve got to try to get freshmen how hard they have to play at this level, but that’s not a problem with him,” Perry said. “He came in with a high motor. He got off to a great start and he had a great finish.”
Perry sat down Hairston in the second quarter when he had two fouls. His time on the bench coincided with the Wonders’ comeback.
With Carson clinging to a 54-50 lead with 90 seconds left, McCain and Darren Isom battled inside for a critical offensive rebound. Isom then made two free throws, accidentally banking in the second one, and the Cougars were headed to victory.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys,” McCain said. “I’m excited about opening the season with a victory.”
Carson 62, A.L. Brown 55
A.L. BROWN (0-1)
Jo. Neal 22, Ja. Neal 8, Cummings 7, Butler 9, St. Louis 4, Britt 3, Sutton 2.
Hairston 16, McCain 13, Raper 8, Hogue 8, Rucker 6, Isom 5, Herron 3, Bearden 2, Westbrook 1.
A.L. Brown 12 16 12 18 — 55
Carson 23 8 16 15 —62