Prep Basketball: Salisbury boys 73, Providence Grove 71, OT
By Mike London
Salisbury’s boys had been there before, and Providence Grove’s hadn’t.
Experience made all the difference in the Hornets’ 73-71 overtime victory on Wednesday. Salisbury’s 18th straight win allowed it to claim sole possession of first place in the CCC.
“I asked our guys at halftime if they’d ever been in a game anything like this,” Providence Grove coach Jim Young said. “They all answered no. My guys did a tremendous job, but they ain’t been there yet.”
Salisbury has, and it beat the new school in Randolph County with unrelenting pressure defense. On offense, the Hornets rode senior post man Brandon Abel, who produced a career-high 29 points.
“Brandon was our rock, our solid foundation,” Salisbury coach Jason Causby said.
Darien Rankin added 12 points, including two hard-driving buckets to start overtime.
Tyler See was terrific for the Patriots, pouring in 17 of his 21 points after halftime. Brian Powell muscled his way to 15 points. Zeb Milliner added 14 points, and reserve Devin Johnson scored all eight of Providence Grove’s points in the overtime period.
Providence Grove (13-6, 8-1) dominated short stretches and led by eight points in the fourth quarter, but it couldn’t hold off SHS (18-1, 9-0), which survived its stiffest challenge since it beat West Rowan in the Sam Moir Christmas Classic.”This was the best game since then because they came after us and it was great competition,” Salisbury junior Dominique Phillips said. “We like to compete.”
Salisbury broke out to a 13-4 lead, with Abel mashing a message-sending early dunk, and Providence Grove looking nervous. But then the Patriots settled in and started trading punches. The Hornets drifted away from Abel and took hasty shots, and Milliner’s floating 3-pointer gave Providence Grove a 28-all halftime tie.
Providence Grove pushed to a six-point lead in the third quarter with 10-for-17 shooting that included four buckets by a red-hot See.
“Providence Grove is a team of runs,” Causby said. “I saw them early in the year and never dreamed they be this good, this quick, but our guys never once panicked.”
The Patriots, who were battling dire foul trouble, led 58-50 with 4:19 remaining. That’s when Abel produced a huge three-point play to start a 9-0 run. Speeding bullet Romar Morris finished the spree with a layup, and the Hornets led 59-58.
See put the Patriots ahead 63-61 with a clutch jumper with 1:28 remaining.
Phillips found Abel inside with 11 seconds left to tie, and the Hornets got a huge defensive stop to force overtime.
Rankin, who had missed a ton of shots he usually makes, bounced back to score the first four points of overtime.
“I was down, but my team and coach picked me up,” Rankin said. “They showed trust in me to go do my thing.”
PG came back to tie 67-all, but Abel’s bucket with 1:10 remaining put the Hornets ahead for good.
Johnson made a free throw to cut Providence Grove’s deficit to 69-68. He missed the second, but the Patriots got the ball out of bounds after a scrap for the rebound.
Providence Grove then turned it over at midcourt with 38 seconds left, and streaking Salisbury point guard Thaddeus Williams turned the mistake into two huge points and a 71-68 lead.
“All night, the defense was the major key, Abel said.
After another Providence Grove turnover, the Patriots were forced to foul, and Dominique Phillips calmly swished a pair of clinching free throws for the Hornets with 18 seconds remaining.
“I’ve had some free-throw slumps, but I knew what I had to do,” Phillips said.So did all the Hornets.
providence grove (71) ó See 21, Powell 15, Z. Milliner 14, Johnson 8, Comer 6, S. Milliner 4, Smith 3.
salisbury (73) ó Abel 29, Rankin 12, Knox 10, Williams 9, Phillips 6, Morris 4, Wilkins 3, Weant.
P. Grove 12 16 23 12 8 ó 71
Salisbury 18 10 17 18 10 ó 73