Prep Basketball: Bearden’s bucket lifts Cougars past rival

Published 1:19 am Wednesday, December 9, 2015

By Mike London

CHINA GROVE — Ryan Bearden’s outstanding prep football career ended with a painful overtime loss to West Rowan, but he got a little payback on Tuesday.
Bearden, making his season debut, made a layup as time expired, and the Cougars beat West Rowan, 71-69.
“Jailen Williams made a great play,” Bearden said. “Jailen drove and my man went to help on him and left me wide open. All I had to do was make a layup.”
It was an amazing night. Guard Paris Hillie scored 18 points in the first half as the Falcons pushed to a 37-32 lead. Hillie, a transfer from North Rowan where he had a reputation as a defensive stopper, finished with 28 points, but he was held to two in the fourth quarter.
“He was hard to stop,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “He’s very quick and we wanted to back off him and try to take away the drive, but he was knocking down everything. We had to get out on him. That gave him some chances to penetrate, but we did a pretty good job of taking some charges. It changes your mindset some when guys are taking charges.”
On one West drive, Bearden and Jamarius Hairston simultaneously took a charge, falling to the floor together like bowling pins.
West got three 3-pointers from Nick Warren, and Austin Love battled for nine points inside.
Carson got a tremendous shooting performance from Cameron Prugh, who made six 3-pointers for all of his 18 points. Malon Herron-Cuthbertson made three 3-pointers and scored 15 points, while Williams had 11 points, including seven in the stretch run.
Carson made 12 3-pointers. Brenden Westbrook made two before he left the game with an injury, and the Cougars (4-2, 2-2 SPC) already were playing without forward Owen White (knee).
West post man Caleb Mauldin has all kinds of drop-steps, spins and shot-fakes, but Carson was able to limit him to 16 points. That wouldn’t have happened without Bearden’s broad-shouldered, 6-foot-4 body.
“Bearden gives us a presence inside,” Perry said. “He needed a little time for his body to recuperate from football, but he we’re thrilled he decided to come out.”
It didn’t look like Hillie would ever miss, but Carson hung doggedly in the game, always making a 3-pointer when the Falcons (1-2, 1-2 SPC) seemed on the verge of pulling away.
West led 67-58 with 4:30 remaining, and West coach Mike Gurley called timeout to settle things down and to set up a play.
The Falcons executed out of the timeout, but missed the layup. That was the turning point. Williams drilled a quick 3-pointer, and instead of being down 11, the Cougars were down six.
They kept coming. After two stickbacks by Bearden and two free throws by Armoni Hogue, it was 67-all with 1:40 remaining.
Mauldin got the last two for West with 1:37 on the clock, but Williams answered with a tough drive. Hillie blocked Williams’ first shot attempt, but he stayed with it and stuck in the bucket that tied the game with 1:12 left.
Hillie missed on a drive, and Carson had a chance to go in front.
Mauldin took a charge with 24 seconds remaining, and the Falcons got the ball back.
Gurley got a timeout with 19 seconds left to make sure the ball went to Mauldin, but Mauldin tried to spin on Bearden, their feet got tangled, and Mauldin was whistled for a walk.
With nine seconds left, Perry called timeout to set up the winning sequence. Williams drove to the right of the hoop. Then he found Bearden for the game-winner.
“It’s a great win for us,” Perry said. “We got manhandled by Robinson on Friday and we’re pretty beat up right now, but our kids were able to withstand an awful lot tonight.”
Bearden agreed.
“That was a crazy game,” the senior said. “Our young guys showed a lot of heart.”

Carson 71, West Rowan 69
WEST ROWAN (69) — Hillie 28, Mauldin 16, Love 9, Warren 9, Delgado 7, Day, Rankin, Wilson, Stolsworth.
CARSON (71) — Prugh 18, Herron-Cuthbertson 15, Williams 11, Hairston 8, Bearden 8, Westbrook 6, Hogue 5, Banks, Whicker.
West Rowan 18 19 21 11 — 69
Carson 16 16 17 22 — 71