Prep Basketball: Carson girls pull away
By Mike London
CHINA GROVE — Carson’s girls aren’t looking for bronze medals this season, but they solidified their third-place standing in the South Piedmont Conference by thumping Cox Mill on Thursday, 54-30.
“Just a great defensive effort tonight,” Carson coach Brooke Misenheimer said. “Fullcourt press, halfcourt traps, everything. All 12 girls who played had great effort on defense. This was a good win. Cox Mill is a dangerous team.”
Being third in the SPC is nothing to sneeze at. League leader Hickory Ridge is ranked No. 1 in the state in 3A, while second-place Central Cabarrus is in the top 10. Carson (12-3, 7-2 SPC) lost to both of the SPC’s bullies the first time around, but is working hard to be ready for the rematches.
“Carson is really good,” said Cox Mill coach Justin Kuralt after his first up-close-and-personal look at the Cougars. “The thing that got us tonight was their zone press. We expected it, and we worked on it, but it really bothered us for some reason.”
From the second quarter on, Carson’s offense was as good as its defense. Carson connected on four of its six 3-pointers in the second quarter, with Destiny Jackson getting two and Maci Cooper and Micah Furr knocking down one each. That long-range accuracy enabled the Cougars to take a 25-18 halftime lead.
“When you’re making some 3s, it makes it a lot easier,” Misenheimer said.
Most teams play zone against the Cougars, with the idea of taking away the drives of Olivia Gabriel, a junior guard who is closing in on 1,000 career points. But when Carson is making some outside shots, it opens up things for Gabriel and forward McKenzie Gadson. Gabriel and Gadson finished with 15 points apiece.
Carson settled the outcome with a strong start to the second half and outscored Cox Mill (6-9, 5-5) by 17-6 in the third quarter. Gabriel had eight points in the quarter and Sydney Taylor and Gabriel made 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to extend a 10-point Cougar lead to a comfortable 16.
“The third quarter has been our Achilles heel all season,” Kuralt said. “We still had a chance, but then they hit those big 3s.”
Cox Mill made seven 3-pointers for the game, with Rachel Barker nailing four. Her fourth one came early in the third quarter, but Carson was able to shut her down the last 14 minutes.
“She can really shoot,” Misenheimer said. “But in the second half, we did a much better job of finding her.”
NOTES: Gabriel has 982 career points.
COX MILL (30)
Barker 13, Coley 8, Riddle 5, Sondrini 3, Holmes 1, Rinkus, Tillery.
Gabriel 15, Gadson 15, Jackson 6, Furr 4, Turney 4, Cooper 3, Taylor 3, Street 2, Shumaker 2, Ketchie, Jolly, Wiggins.
Cox Mill 10 8 6 6— 30
Carson 5 20 17 12 — 54
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