High school basketball: Salisbury boys end season
By Mike London
BURNSVILLE — Jalon Walker averaged 6.1 points per game but was such a dynamic defender that he was arguably the best player for Salisbury’s boys basketball team.
The rest of the Hornets took their cue from Walker, and defense became the focus for head coach Bryan Withers’ 2020-21 squad. In Salisbury’s last 10 games, the Hornets held every opponent under 60 points.
They held four teams in the 30s.
Tuesday’s season-ending, first-round game at undefeated Mountain Heritage was a grind, the Hornets’ kind of game, but they lost it 50-43.
The Hornets defended, but they got out-rebounded and out-shot.
“They had big guys, football-type bodies, and they out-physicaled us,” Withers said. “We really thought if we could hold them to 58, we’d win. But we never got in an offensive rhythm, Our big guys didn’t score.”
The Hornets’ top three scorers for the season combined to shoot 6-for-26.
“We only made three buckets outside of 14 feet,” Withers said. “It’s hard to win those.”
Joseph Witherspoon led the Hornets with eight points. Scoring six each were Javon Smith, Mike Geter, Cameron Stout and Nate Brown.
Salisbury did well enough at the foul line (8-for-12), but didn’t get there often.
Mountain Heritage led 11-4 early, but Salisbury wasn’t in bad shape at halftime, down 21-16.
The Hornets kept defending, kept fighting, stayed within striking distance, but never could make enough shots to get over the hump.
Withers praised the efforts of freshman guards Mike Geter and Deuce Walker.
Geter had five assists.
“Our last two games, he really stood out with his defense,” Withers said.
In 2018, Salisbury went on the road and beat a No. 1-seeded Mountain Heritage team in the fourth round. Obviously, Salisbury’s goal was to make that occur all over again.
It didn’t happen.
“That time when we beat them, we were able to put a lot of defensive pressure on them and had them worn down for the fourth quarter,” Withers said. ‘We made them play in space and we were able to use our speed. We wanted to speed Mountain Heritage up like that tonight, but they were patient and were able to stick with what they do well.”
Salisbury finished 8-5. There was an eight-game winning streak in there following an 0-3 start. The Hornets lost 45-42 to unbeaten North Davidson in the game that decided the Central Carolina Conference title, before losing to Mountain Heritage.
“This has been a difficult year for everyone,” said Withers who got home after 1 a.m. on Wednesday morning. “What I’m proudest of is how hard we fought. There were a lot of what-ifs, but we’ll face it, learn from it and grow.”
Salisbury 8 8 11 16 — 43
Mountain Heritage 11 10 12 17 — 50
SALISBURY scoring — Witherspoon 8, Stout 6, Geter 6, Smith 6, Brown 6, Wells 4, D. Walker 4, J. Walker 3.
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