Prep basketball: Carson boys win a tough one

Published 11:54 pm Wednesday, December 14, 2016

By Mike London

CHINA GROVE — The scouting report on the Carson boys is that they’re a finesse team that can really shoot the ball.
But they won a physical, bar-room brawl of a game on Wednesday when they shot only 31 percent from the floor and made just three 3-pointers.
Carson got a career-best 22 points from junior guard Jailen Williams, benefited from a number of Thomasville technical fouls and beat the visiting Bulldogs, 64-59.
“When we shoot well, we’ve obviously got a great chance to win,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “But you hope your team can also find a way to win some of those games when you shoot bad. We did that tonight. We toughed this one out.”
Williams, a wiry, 5-foot-9 guard, was the toughest Cougar of all. Fourteen of his points came in the second half and 10 came in a wild fourth quarter.
“When people get up on him and challenge him like Thomasville was doing, he’s good at attacking the rim,” Perry said. “He’ll dish it, he’ll make his free throws, and he can finish. He’s a little bit stronger and a little bit taller than he was last year.”
Carson (6-2) had lost at Thomasville (5-2) last week in a game played in sauna-like conditions.
“With our numbers (Carson is not deep and played six men most of the minutes on Wednesday), the back-to-backs can be tough for us,” Perry said.
Carson didn’t start well, shooting 2-for-14 in the first quarter and getting crushed on the glass by the quicker-jumping Bulldogs. The first quarter ended with the visitors on top, 14-11.
“We started the game very shaky on defense,” Williams said. “And we allowed seven offensive rebounds in that first quarter. We just had to get more stops and more rebounds.”
Cameron Prugh hit Carson’s first 3-ball to open the second quarter and Carson evened up the rebounding (mostly Owen White) and controlled that period. By halftime, Carson led, 35-25.
But Thomasville has terrific athletes, especially Jahare Taylor Thomas, and the Bulldogs battered Carson physically and on the scoreboard in the third quarter.
The good news for Carson was that by the end of the third quarter, Williams was asserting himself, and he’s very smart with the ball. With Carson down 44-41, he scored on a drive. Then he found Jamarius Hairston on an inbounds play underneath, and Carson led, 45-44.
Wen the Bulldogs were whistled for a delay of the game technical for slapping the ball after a bucket, Prugh made a free throw for a 51-all tie with four minutes left.
With Carson down three, Williams buried a 3-pointer from deep in the right corner for a 56-all deadlock with 2:42 left.
Next came the sequence that decided the game. It started with Carson reserve guard A.J. Banks forcing a Thomasville traveling violation.
Then, with the Bulldogs face-guarding the red-hot Williams, it was up to Banks to make something happen. He got the ball to White, who came barreling down the lane for a rugged finish at the rim, a huge three-point play and a 59-56 Carson lead.
With Carson scrambling on defense near midcourt, Banks and Hairston knocked a ball loose, and Banks took it in for a layup. Thomasville coach James Atkinson demanded a foul too forcefully after that physical takeaway, and he was hit with a technical.
When Prugh stepped to the foul line and knocked down the two free throws, Carson suddenly led 63-56, and still had the ball. Williams got a free throw out of that possession, and the lead was eight. After that it was just a matter of hanging on.
“That was a big sequence of events,” Perry said. “That’s where we finally got some separation.”
Carson shot 50 percent in the fourth quarter, mostly because Williams was 3-for-4 from the field. He also was 3-for-4 at the foul line in the stretch run.
“Our defense fuels our offense,” Williams said. “We knew if we kept getting stops, we were going to eventually start making shots.”
Hairston had 14 points and 10 rebounds and pulled down four big ones in the final quarter. White also had 10 rebounds, while Brenden Westbrook threw down a loud dunk.

Taylor Thomas 15, Byrd 10, Ingram 7, Johnson 6, Cunningham 6, Breaux 5, Anthony 5, Jenkins 5, Whiteside, McMiller.

Williams 22, Hairston 14, Prugh 8, White 7, Westbrook 7, Banks 4, Perry 2, Sifford.

Thomasville 14 11 21 13 — 59
Carson 11 24 10 19 — 64