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Prep basketball: Cougars can’t contain Central’s Hightower

CHINA GROVE — Central Cabarrus star Lavon Hightower’s 36 points were too much for Carson’s boys to overcome in the SPC opener for both teams.

The Vikings were swept by Carson last season, but they held off the Cougars for a  74-67 win in the Carson gym on Monday.

“It was a tough road victory,” Central Cabarrus coach Kenyan Weaks said. “We had a guy out with a concussion and a guy out due to a funeral, so this was a big one for us to win. Our bench really came through.”

Senior Marquez McCain led Carson with 19 points. Freshman Jamarius Hairston scored 18.

“We’re actually scoring more than I thought we would,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “But we’ve got to play better defense. If we give up 74, it’s going to be tough for us.”

Perry  watched his team turn in a strong first quarter. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Jonathan Rucker allowed the Cougars to take a 22-18 lead, but the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Hightower’s 12-point second quarter put the Vikings ahead 37-36 at halftime.

“He’s just a really tough matchup for us, a whole lot bigger than any of our guards,” Perry said.

A Carson scoring drought in the third quarter enabled Central Cabarrus to get some breathing room. The visitors led 56-46 after Hightower dished to Joe Dorton for an open 3-pointer late in the period.

“I had a chance scout Carson’s game with Kannapolis and we knew we had to limit No. 22 (McCain) and then hold down their  transition points,” Weaks said. “We had a tough time doing that in the first half, but our defensive effort was better in the second half.”

Carson still had its chances in the fourth quarter. A 3-pointer by Hairston cut Central Cabarrus’ lead to 65-60 with 2:44 left, and a 3-pointer by Jacob Raper made it a 67-63 game with  two minutes to go.

But Hightower finished strong, blocking shots and burying free throws, and he got  help  from his teammates. Drae Purvis made two key shots in the fourth quarter. Daiyan Fuller scored 13 points.

CENTRAL (74) 

Hightower 36, Fuller 13, Dorton 9, Purvis 7,  Roseboro 5, Thompson 4.

CARSON (67)   

McCain 19, Hairston 18, Bearden 11, Rucker 6, Hogue 5, Raper 3, Herron 3, Isom 2, Westbrook, Linker, Whicker, Collins

Central 18    19   19   18   —  74

Carson  22   14   12  19   — 67

 

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