High school basketball: Huge road win for Carson girls
By Mike London
CANDLER— Mary Spry was on crutches after Thursday’s ankle injury, so Carleigh Perry rebounded for both of them.
Nineteen rebounds for the 5-foot-8 senior in Saturday night’s 64-56 win at second-seeded Enka that qualifies as one of the biggest in program history.
“Carleigh was a beast,” Carson head coach Brooke Stouder said. “Nineteen rebounds. That has to be a record for us.”
Perry’s story is pretty well-known. Two ACL injuries and the resulting surgeries and rehabs ruined her chances to become one of the county’s greats, but she is still making some history with this team.
Carson (17-0) broke the program record for consecutive wins on Saturday.
This was a third-round game and the third round in this bracket-condensed season is the equivalent of the fourth round in previous seasons, so Carson is now headed to the regional final.
The third-seeded Cougars will get to play that game at home on Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Hickory. No. 1 seed Freedom lost to No. 12 seed Hickory on Saturday.
Carson was very good last year, even before it added Spry, but it lost by two at home to Enka in a third-round tussle in front of a packed house when multiple shots wouldn’t fall at the end.
For Carson’s veterans, the Perry cousins, Carleigh and Colbie; the Isley sisters, Lani and Hannah, and Ellie Wilhelm, this was a second chance to play Enka, a chance to erase the memory of how last season ended.
“A real road game, and with a lot of fans,” Stouder said. “It was the first game all season that felt normal and felt right. We talked about having a crowd for the first time and using that to our advantage. We got off to a quick start.”
Both teams scored briskly in the first quarter. Once Carleigh Perry broke the ice with a stickback of her own miss, Carson got rolling. Hannah Isley made a highlight-film play, a darting steal into the passing lane and a fullcourt drive for a three-point play.
But Enka can score too. The Cougars led 21-18 after a quarter.
Then Carson controlled the second quarter, pushing to a 37-26 lead. Wilhelm made a 3-pointer with the clock winding down, and the Cougars sprinted into halftime with all the momentum.
Enka took it back in the third quarter, cutting Carson’s lead to 46-40.
“In the fourth quarter, we did enough to hold on,” Stouder said. “Both teams missed a ton of free throws, but that was because both teams were worn out. It was really hard-fought. We weren’t at a major size disadvantage like we were against Cuthbertson, though, and I thought our defensive effort was pretty great all night.”
Enka standout Emily Carver scored 18, but that’s below her average. Carson could live with her getting 18.
“You’re not going to stop her, but we did want to keep her off the foul line,” Stouder said. “She still shot eight free throws, but we made her work hard for most of her points.”
Hadleigh Dill scored 20 for the Sugar Jets, a little above her average.
The third scorer for second-seeded Enka (15-2) is point guard Bentlee Chockley. She averages 15 and was held to seven.
“Colbie Perry had her most of the night and did a great job,” Stouder said.
Colbie Perry also scored 17 points, with 15 coming on 3-pointers. She banked one of them from way, way out, but it was Carson’s night. Wilhelm made three 3-pointers, scored 19 and had six rebounds.
Carleigh Perry had 11 points to go with all those rebounds. Hannah Isley had 13 points and eight rebounds. Lani Isley had five assists.
Carson also got minutes from Kary Hales, Aliayah White and Jaden Vaughn, who was able to return from a COVID quarantine.
CARSON (64) — Wilhelm 19, Co. Perry 17, H. Isley 13, Ca. Perry 11, L. Isley 4, White, Hales, Vaughn.
ENKA (56) — Dill 20, Carver 18, Chockley 7, Daves 4, Smith 3, Eckley 2, Jeter 2, Lee.
Carson 21 16 9 18 — 64
Enka 18 8 14 16 — 56
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