Prep Basketball: Moore too much for Carson boys
By Mike London
CHINA GROVE — If Cox Mill sophomore Wendell Moore were a candy, he’d be a Snickers bar.
If he were a soft drink, he’d be a can of Coca-Cola.
He’s No. 1, probably the best guy in the Class of 2019 in the state and maybe in the country. There’s a reason he’s being recruited by almost everyone with a college team, and he’s worth the trouble.
Moore raised the complimentary label “efficient scorer” to a new level in Cox Mill’s 70-59 South Piedmont Conference win at Carson on Thursday. He scored 34 points. He missed just three shots, going 10-for-13 from the floor and 12-for-12 at the foul line.
Oh yes, he also had 13 rebounds. If he’d played for the home team, they probably would’ve retired his jersey following the game.
But let the record show that second-ranked Cox Mill (11-5, 9-1 SPC) needed everything the 6-foot-5 Moore had to get out of China Grove alive.
Playing without bomber Cameron Prugh, who is recovering from surgery, Carson led Cox Mill after 26 minutes, and it was still a five-point game at the three-minute mark. The Cougars finally wore down and wore out, as foul trouble piled up, fatigue set in, and Moore’s shots just kept dropping relentlessly. Everything Moore puts up has a great chance. He’s always balanced, always squared up, and he uses the glass like he’s arrived in a time machine from the 1970s.
“Being that big, yet moving so well, he is kind of a freak,” Cox Mill coach Jody Barbee said. “We’re not a very good halfcourt team, but if we can get Wendell the ball at the high post or the short corner, we know he’s going to make the right play for us, whether it’s a shot or a pass.”
Carson (9-5, 6-3) had two hot guys early. Jamarius Hairston and Brenden Westbrook are normally slashers, but they became splashers. They nailed two 3-pointers apiece in the first quarter. Carson went up, 16-14.
“The 3-pointer is the great equalizer,” Barbee said. “Their 3s negated our size advantage.”
It was 31-all at halftime. Cox Mill needed strong plays from Jacari Johnson just to get to halftime with a draw.
“Johnson is our high-energy guy,” Barbee said. “But we weren’t getting a pace anything like what we wanted. We want it fast. We want it chaotic. We want it fullcourt.”
Moore was unstoppable in the third quarter, but the long-limbed Hairston kept Carson afloat, answering Moore from everywhere. The quarter ended with Cox Mill on top, 47-43.
Then Cole Perry got hot. Back-to-back 3-pointers by the sophomore put Carson ahead 49-47 as the clock neared the six-minute mark. But Moore kept coming, getting to the foul line over and over and making every free throw count. He also dished twice to Jesse Malit for buckets, and the Cougars could no longer keep pace.
When Moore took Owen White to the rack for a three-point play and a 10-point lead with two minutes left, it was over.
“They’ve got a lot of big people, the biggest team that we’ve faced so far,” White said. “But we played with them a long time. We’ve just got to find a way to get a little better.”
Hairston scored 19, Perry had 15, and Westbrook had 12, but White and Jailen Williams were held well under their averages by a stout defensive team that blocks shots. Carson needed a big game from all the starters if it was going to overcome Moore.
“We had great effort and we hung with a strong team,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “But the story of our season has been that when we’ve got to get that one big stop or get that one big rebound, we’re just not getting it. Making that key play is still the missing link for us. I know my guys, and I know they’re going to challenge each other to start making that key play.”
Barbee acknowledged his team withstood a mighty effort.
“We’ll be playing them again on our Senior Night, and they’ll have Prugh for that one,” Barbee said. “I’m not really looking forward to it.”
COX MILL (70)
Moore 34, Johnson 14, Malit 7, Sio 5, Stone-Carrawell 4, Noone 3, Hall 3, Cline.
Hairston 19, Perry 15, Westbrook 12, Williams 6, White 5, Sifford 2, Banks.
Cox Mill 14 17 16 23— 70
Carson 16 15 12 16 — 59