High school basketball: Carson boys win at West in SPC tourney

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 14, 2023


By Mike London

MOUNT ULLA — Carson’s boys basketball team won at West Rowan 64-62 on Monday in the first round of the South Piedmont Conference Tournament.

It was one of those ultimate team effort sort of things. None of the Cougars scored more than 11 points, but eight of them scored six or more.

Ranked 35th in the 3A West RPI, sixth-seeded Carson (11-13) was no doubt done for the season had it lost, but the Cougars will play on. They’ll take on second-seeded tournament host Concord on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. If they can somehow win that one against the Spiders, their playoff chances will be greatly enhanced.

“Hopefully tonight’s win will bump us up some in the RPI,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “A win Wednesday would bump us some more.”

Third-seeded West Rowan (15-9) will be in the 3A playoffs and now can regroup for that adventure.

“We’d lost three times to West, but all three were close games,” Perry said. “We finally got one, and it was one we had to have to continue our season. Proud of the effort.”

Cameron Burleyson made two early 3-pointers to help Carson hang around. West is playing minus leading scorer Athan Gill, but it’s still a solid team built around point guard Kayvone Norman, shooter Will Givens and streaky scorer Elijah Holmes. Carson caught Holmes on a hot night. He had 20.

“West is still solid and Norman is tough,” Perry said. “He’s so strong and physical and he gets downhill to the rim. You try to step in and take charges on him, but he’s very good at controlling his body.”

Norman scored 17, while Givens had 13.

West took a 37-27 lead to halftime. It looked bleak for the Cougars.

“I think that’s when it would have been easy to pack in and call it a season, but the guys didn’t,” Perry said. “We still had some fight in us.”

Carson got back within six early in the third quarter. West responded. The Falcons were up a dozen when the Cougars made a last desperate push. West was still up by nine heading to the fourth quarter, but the Cougars had the momentum. They were making free throws and West was missing.

Emory Taylor’s third 3-pointer of the night got Carson close. Colin Ball banked in a shot in the lane with 2.1 seconds left to give Carson a 63-62 lead.

West turned it over on a long pass. Ball was fouled, made the first of two free throws for 64-62, and West called timeout.

“In the huddle, I told Colin to miss the second free throw on purpose, to shoot it hard, just to make sure he hit the rim with it,” Perry said. “He looked at me like I was little crazy, but I wanted time to run out on that free throw.”

Ball executed. The ball smacked off the rim and was deflected and slapped around. Time expired before the Falcons could get a timeout.

Ball scored all of his seven points in the fourth quarter. Jonah Drye led the Cougars with 11.

Concord will be a tall order for the Cougars. They have athletic scorers in Brayden Blue and James Smith and a 6-foot-6 tower in Jeremiah Howard, who is a challenging matchup for the Cougars.

“They kind of killed us in the game at our place, but we went down to the wire with Concord down there,” Perry said. “Maybe we can play them tough again.We’ve got to make some 3s, but we’ve also got to get to the rim some and draw some fouls.”

Carson     17     10    18    19   — 64

West        19      18   17      8    — 62

Carson — Drye 11, Taylor 9, Burleyson 8, Beasley 8, McGruder 8, Ball 7, Howard 7, Guida 6.

West — Holmes 20, Norman 17, Givens 13, Stockton 4, Graham 3, Little 3, Martin 2.