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Boys basketball: Carson fades away at the end

CHINA GROVE — Coach Brian Perry has the Carson boys dribbling in the right direction — even if they appeared to be going backward Tuesday night.

The Cougars spent the entire first half and two minutes of the second playing catch-up against visiting Concord, then quickly unraveled in an 81-62 SPC loss.

“We felt very fortunate to be where we were at halftime,” said Perry, Carson’s ninth-year coach. “We had such a ragged start and were trying to hang on. But they just dominated us inside in the second half. For some reason we didn’t do a good job in the paint.”

Carson (5-4, 2-3) fell behind 8-0 in the opening five minutes and never led, but pulled even at 30-30 when senior Jonathan Rucker knocked down a 3-pointer early in the third period. That’s when Concord (6-2, 4-2) — which returns only 14 points-per-game from last season’s unbeaten league championship team — imposed its will and battered the Cougars with an double-barrel,  inside-outside attack.

“We struggled on the fast break in the first half,” said Spiders coach George Walker. “Our execution on 4-on-3’s and 3-on-2’s was a little reckless. But in the second half, once we had the numbers, we were able to get great shots.

“We scored 55 points in the second half playing the way we like to play.”

The most imposing player on the floor was Concord forward Malik Ford, a 6-foot-8 shot of Red Bull. The senior scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half, mostly on power steps to the basket and second-chance layups.

“He took control of the paint and scored eight points in the third quarter,” said Walker. “And when he kicked it back out, Ray (Kowalski) was usually open for shots.”

Kowalski netted 11 of his game-high 21 points in the decisive third period, when Concord had both an 8-0 and 6-0 runs. His 3-pointer closed the quarter and gave the Spiders a 57-43 lead.

“We worked hard and finally caught up in the third quarter,” said Jacob Raper, Carson’s top scorer with 15 points off the bench. “And then I don’t know what happened.”

Carson stuck around for a little longer, trimming its deficit to 59-53 when Marquez McCain turned a steal into a runaway layup with 5:50 remaining. Concord responded by turning the waning moments into a victory lap, sparked by Hamsah Nasirideen’s second major-league dunk of the night.

“He’s a tremendous athlete,” Walker said. “And that’s what we’re trying to get him to do. It doesn’t have to be one of those every time, but take it strong to the hole and those things will happen.”

McCain finished with 13 points coming off the bench. Jamarius Hairston and Brendan Westbrook added 10 points apiece.

“There are a lot of things we can take out of this game that will help us down the road,” Perry said. “When a team misses, you’ve got to get the rebound. You can’t give up second and third opportunities. There’s a lot of little things that we’ve got to do better.”

 

CONCORD (81): Kowalski 21, Ford 17, Nasirideen 13, K.Black 10, Cassell 8, R.Black 4, Parker 3, West 3, Vaught 2.

CARSON (62): Raper 15, McCain 13, Hairston 10, Westbrook 10, Rucker 6, Isom 4, Bearden 2, Herron 2, Collins, Hogue, Whicker, Linker.

Concord 8  18  31  24  — 81

Carson 6  17  20  19  — 62

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