High school basketball: Hornets win in OT, will play on road Tuesday

Published 10:39 am Monday, February 27, 2023

By Mike London

GAMEWELL — Salisbury head coach Bryan Withers described Saturday’s 76-71 overtime win at West Caldwell as one of the top five of his coaching career.

The victory came in the third round of the 2A state playoffs, and the Hornets (22-5) now are enjoying their deepest playoff run since Trell Baker led Salisbury on a postseason surge that reached the regional final in 2017-18.

It was the 144th win for Withers at the helm of the Hornets. This is his eighth season leading the program. The Hornets have won 74 percent of the time during his tenure.

“Considering the environment, considering the quality of the team we were playing, considering the importance of the game, Saturday’s win has to be top five,” Withers said. “Just really proud of all of our guys right now. We overcame a lot to get this one.”

The biggest thing the Hornets overcame was Juke Harris fouling out in the fourth quarter. Harris scored 18 before halftime to push the Hornets into the lead. He finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds.

“Their fans erupted when Juke fouled out, but our guys knew it wasn’t over,” Withers said. “Nobody panicked. I looked at them in the huddle and everyone was confident we were going to win the game. Mike Geter took over the game for us after Juke fouled out. Not necessarily scoring, but getting the ball to other guys where they could score.”

Playing the overtime period without Harris, the Hornets got buckets from Deuce Walker, Dashawn Brown and Geter and a free throw from Hank Webb. It was enough. West Caldwell also was losing players to fouls, and the Hornets grabbed key rebounds and drew some charging calls.

It was the 15th straight win for the sixth-seeded Hornets. Third-seeded West Caldwell (25-3) had an 18-game winning streak stopped. The Warriors hadn’t lost since Dec. 27 and hadn’t lost on their home floor all season.

Harris got the Hornets started fast with a big first quarter. The Hornets led 30-23 at halftime.

Salisbury added to its lead in the third quarter. Webb made three 3s in the quarter. The Hornets took a 52-41 lead to the fourth quarter.

West Caldwell made a desperate and powerful run, putting up 27 points in the fourth quarter to erase Salisbury’s lead and force overtime. Brown made four buckets in the fourth quarter to help the Hornets get to the OT period.

The home team had the momentum at that point, but the Hornets found a way to get it done.

“We missed way too many free throws (16), and if we make a decent percentage of those we win the game handily,” Withers said. “So it’s not like we were perfect. But as far as the effort we had and the fight that we showed, you can’t ask guys for anything more.”

Webb scored 15, the second-biggest scoring night of his career. Brown had 14 points and seven rebounds. Geter had 12 points and seven assists. Walker had seven points and nine rebounds.

Harris didn’t make a 3-pointer (o-for-3) but still shot 10-for 16 from the floor and 6-for-7 on free throws. He had three assists and two blocks.

The 2A West was well-seeded by the RPI system. The top eight seeds all were still playing on Saturday. No. 1 seed North Surry and No. 3 seed West Caldwell lost in overtime, and No. 7 seed Robinson, the defending state champ, was ousted 59-45 by Reidsville.

Salisbury will travel to play the second-seeded Reidsville Rams (24-0) on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Reidsville is led by 6-foot-8 freshman phenom Kendre Harrison, who had 21 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks against Robinson. Three other Rams scored in double figures.

Reidsville sells out. Fans are urged to get there early.


Salisbury        15   15   22   16    8   — 76

W. Caldwell   9    14    18   27     3   — 71

Salisbury — Harris 26, Webb 15, Brown 14, Geter 12, Walker 7, Ross 2.

W. Caldwell — Maddox 26. M. Patterson 22, J. Patterson 9, Thomas 8, McKinney 3, Anthony 3.