High school boys basketball: Hornets dominate second half, advance to CCC championship game

Published 5:24 am Thursday, February 16, 2023


By Mike London

LEXINGTON — Salisbury’s boys basketball team won its 11th straight game on Wednesday.

The Hornets cruised 80-43 against South Davidson in a 1A/2A Central Carolina Conference tourney semifinal.

Coach Bryan Withers wasn’t thrilled with how the Hornets (18-5) played, but he did like the second half much better than the first half.

Coaches don’t want to be cruising or coasting against anyone with the playoffs just around the corner. Withers wants to see the Hornets playing with intensity and focus no matter who the opponent is and no matter what the scoreboard says

Top-seeded Salisbury ought to be able to overwhelm fourth-seeded South Davidson, but didn’t, at least not during the second quarter..

Salisbury started off well enough and built a double-digit lead, but South Davidson was able to score 18 points and trade buckets during a second quarter that was competitive.

The Hornets led 41-27 at halftime.

“I didn’t think we were good in the first half,” Withers said. “We challenged our guys at halftime to stop going through the motions and to get after it. They responded well in the second half.”

The Hornets responded so well that South Davidson was held to three points in the third quarter, It was a 28-3 quarter for a 69-30 lead. That’s not cruising. That’s not coasting. That’s dominating.

With a Miami coach in the Lexington gym to watch the major recruit, Salisbury junior Juke Harris scored 32 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked three shots.

Harris averages 30, so it was just another night at the office. He scored 103 points in the Hornets’ three victories against South Davidson.

Jonathan Ross, whose corner 3-point shooting is important for the Hornets, scored 11.

Deuce Walker and Mike Geter didn’t score big, but Geter had eight assists and Walker had six rebounds. Jalen Chunn and Hank Webb combined for another 10 assists.

Dashawn Brown, an important rebounder who is back in the mix and playing well after missing some games with injury, scored eight points.

Defensively, the Hornets held South Davidson to 33-percent shooting and forced 19 turnovers.

Tanner Delattre made four 3-pointers and scored 20 to lead the Wildcats (10-15), who smacked Lexington in the opening round.

“They’re a well-coached team and they played very hard,” Withers said.

That praise was merited, but the loss may be a season-ender for South Davidson.

Salisbury is seventh in the 2A West RPI rankings.

Playoff pairings will be released on Saturday. South Davidson and North Rowan are on the 1A West bubble. The latest projections offered by High School OT have both CCC squads narrowly missing out on the playoff bracket.

Third-seeded North Rowan has an opportunity to change that projection at 7:30 tonight when it takes on second-seeded Thomasville (which tied Salisbury for first place in the regular season) in a tourney semifinal at neutral Lexington.

North Rowan’s second-seeded girls won’t have a neutral atmosphere at 6 p.m. tonight in their semifinal. Their opponent — third-seeded Lexington — will have most of the crowd and will be playing on its home floor. The winner will play Salisbury for the title on Friday night.

South Davidson  9    18    3    13   — 43

Salisbury             23   18   28  11   — 80

Salisbury — Harris 32, Ross 11, Walker 8, Brown 8, Geter 5, Davis 4, Sheppard 4, Brandon 3, House 3, Webb 2.