• 73°

Salisbury boys edge Mooresville for third-place honors

By David Shaw

sports@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Top-seeded Salisbury’s boys basketball team never found its happy place in the Dale’s Sporting Goods/Sam Moir Christmas Classic at Goodman Gym this week.
What the Hornets did find was third place, courtesy of Friday’s 74-71 consolation-round victory over Mooresville.
“It’s not what we wanted,” senior Tre Oats said after Salisbury (7-3) struggled to shake off the sixth-seeded Blue Devils. “But we had to take advantage of what was there. It’s what was given to us.”
Salisbury’s Jekyll-and-Hyde performance included three-and-a-half minutes of lights-out basketball to start the second half, when it scored 17 points in a hurry and built a 39-24 third-quarter lead.

There was Oats banging inside for three big-man layups, Trell Baker connecting on a 15-footer and Will Leckonby finally finding his range with a 3-pointer from the left side.
“We were just playing our game, inside and outside,” said coach Bryan Withers, who found more to dislike than like in the win. “But it’s not the game we wanted. These guys thought they should be playing for the championship. That made it really tough to motivate them.”

That became apparent midway through the third period, when Mooresville (5-7) began carving into its deficit. Sparked by high-scorer Noah Allen (23 points) and power forward Tay Davis, the Blue Devils used a 20-5 scoring frenzy to tie the score, 54-54, early in the fourth quarter.
“Turnovers,” said Oats. “We couldn’t connect on a lot of passes. We needed to get back to doing what we did early in the season.”
They did, but not before falling behind, 66-60, on Allen’s three-point play with 3:49 remaining. “We had to get them going again,” said Withers. “You find out who your real players are when you’re down like that.”
Salisbury’s climb out of the hole started when Baker (18 points, 7 assists, 6 steals) converted a pair of free throws, then swiped a pass and turned it into a full-court, runaway layup. Oshaun Robinson’s layup — off a lovely feed from Oats — tied the score 68-all with 1:57 to play. And Leckonby’s tip-in provided a lead the Hornets never relinquished.
“It was just passing the ball around and finding open people,” Oats said after contributing 20 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks. “We were determined to come back after last night’s loss.”
The 6-foot-6 Oats was a one-man SWAT team in the fourth quarter, when he blocked five Mooresville shots.
“Tre did some things in the second half that I really liked,” Withers said. “But I’d still like to see him become more aggressive. He’s got the body. He’s got those long arms.”
Yet, when it ended, neither Oats nor any of his teammates were turning cartwheels.
“I saw stuff today that will take me the rest of the weekend to get over,” said Withers. “This may have been our worst game of the year, but we’re fine. Disappointed, but somebody had to finish third.”

MOORESVILLE (71) — Allen 23, T.Davis 15, Gunnings 11, White 7, Welch 6, J.Davis 4, Mauney 3, Shipp 2.

SALISBURY (74) — Oats 20, Baker 18, Harris 11, Leckonby 11, Williams 6, Fisher 4, Robinson 2, Gill 1, Mashore 1, Holmes, Moss.

Mooresville  13 15 22 21 — 71

Salisbury      13 19 22 20 —74

Comments

Health

‘Nudge from God’: 10 years after diagnosis, Rockwell man to receive kidney from live donor

Crime

Salisbury police warn residents after increased trailer thefts

Education

Elon heightens alert as 32 test positive; Wake Forest in good shape to continue instruction as is

Cleveland

Corn picker catches fire at Knox Farm, destroying nearly eight acres

Nation/World

House easily passes stopgap funding bill, averting shutdown

News

Supreme Court vacancy looms large in 2nd NC Senate debate

Coronavirus

Additional COVID-19 death reported in Rowan; Cooper announces small business relief

Crime

Asheville man charged with heroin possession following traffic checkpoint

Education

Susan Cox conceding school board race, putting support behind opponent

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools will survey families, stakeholders about next superintendent

Local

Library to reopen for in-person visits Oct. 1

Local

Rowan Sheriff’s Office K-9s to receive bulletproof vests

Crime

Man charged with sex offense, raping teen

Business

Commissioners receive analysis of county’s development application process

Crime

Man arrested in Spencer in connection with Charlotte murder investigation

Local

County government losing assistant manager, social services director

Education

RSS will collect information on full K-5 return

Education

KCS sees smooth transition back to classes, unlikely to transition to all in-person for K-5

Nation/World

Barrett emerges as court favorite; Trump to pick by weekend

Local

Tillis says Trump will extend offshore drilling pause to NC

Coronavirus

12% of all Rowan COVID-19 cases currently active

Crime

Blotter: Concord man faces drug charges after hotel disturbance call

Crime

Rockwell teen charged with rape of a 14-year-old girl

Crime

Police: Charlotte man caught stealing funeral home employee’s truck