Moir Christmas Classic: Salisbury boys get by Carson

Published 12:31 am Friday, December 28, 2018

By Marny Hendrick

SALISBURY — Team depth made all the difference for the Salisbury boys Thursday morning as it managed just enough breathing room to hold off Carson, 69-58, to open the Dale’s/Sam Moir Christmas Classic at Catawba’s Goodman gymnasium.

Ten players contributed to the scoring for the third-seeded Hornets (6-2), as they overcame a barrage of eight 3-pointers by the sixth-seeded Cougars (3-8).

“Our inexperience in this tournament with this team showed because I thought we were trying too hard at first,” said Salisbury head coach Bryan Withers. “But we settled down and as has been the case all year, somebody different makes the plays for us every game.”

It was a one-point lead, 45-44, late in the third period when guard Mike McLean (10 points) stole the ball and converted a three-point play to make the score 48-44.  Kevin Chawlk’s lay-up followed by a clutch 3-pointer by Zay Kesler expanded the Salisbury lead to 53-46 with 5:09 left to play.

Coming off the bench, reserve post Jack Fisher then provided the biggest series of plays to give the Hornets the working margin they would need to win. Banging inside, Fisher put back a couple of tough inside shots to expand the lead to 57-46 with 3:50 left to play. Carson, the defending Moir boys champion, never got closer than seven points the rest of the way. Fisher finished with four points and six rebounds to showcase the team depth,

“We just had to get into it,” said junior guard Zay Kesler, who shared scoring honors with Cam Gill —15 points each. ” We always start out a little slow and need to start getting after teams a little earlier.”

Gill felt the key to the first-round win was defense. “We were being aggressive on defense and crashing the boards,” he said. “And were not letting them get open shots.”

Carson used a trio of 3s each from AJ Clark and AJ Mauldin to keep the Cougars in the lead for much of the first half. Clark, a 6-3 junior scored 16 in the first half, finishing with 23 for the game while Mauldin had 11. Senior Cole Perry also scored 11 for the Cougars.

“Salisbury has a little run to start the fourth quarter which kind of let it get away from us,” Carson head coach Brian Perry said. “We were in this game but we have to clean up our mistakes and try to get a little better each game.”

The Salisbury win sets up a semifinal battle today at 4:30 with unbeaten arch-rival North Rowan (7-0). Carson and South Rowan will meet in a consolation second-round game at 10:30 this morning at Goodman Gym.

CARSON (58) — Clark 23, Perry 11, Mauldin 11, Smith 6, Hales 5, Jackson 2, Spry.

SALISBURY (69) — Kesler 15, Gill 15, McLean 10, Smith 7, Chawlk 6, J. Walker 4, Brown 4, J. Fisher 4, R. Walker 2, Witherspoon 2, Carlton, White, B. Fisher, Norman, Blackwell.

Carson             18    11    15    14 — 58

Salisbury         12    23    13    21 — 69