Boys lose shootout at Carson

Published 8:52 am Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Both visiting Davie and Carson put on a show on the offensive end. Only one team kept it up for 32 minutes.

Last year Davie’s varsity boys basketball team cracked 80 points twice in 23 games. It won both. But 81 wasn’t enough in this one as Carson outlasted Davie 89-81 in the season opener for both teams on Nov. 19.

“Offensively, we played really well,” coach Mike Absher said. “My biggest disappointment was on the defensive end.”

The torrid shooting from both sides began immediately. Freshman Michael Walton banged two 3-pointers in the first quarter, which ended with Carson in front 21-20. It was 37-all at the half.

In the third quarter, Heath Slabach’s 3-pointer and Nic Starnes’ pass to Jordan McDaniel in transition gave Davie a 42-37 lead. McDaniel pushed the lead to seven. Carson rallied for a lead, but dunks by 6-foot-1 Cooper Wall and the 6-4, 205-pound L.P. Mua tied the game at 56.

“I thought we were getting ready to take the momentum after those dunks,” Absher said. “But then Carson just pulled away from us. It all happened very quickly.”

The turning point came with Davie leading 56-53. Carson nailed two 3-pointers for a 59-56 advantage. Then the Cougars hit another 3. By the end of the third, they had made 10 of their eventual 11 3s, resulting in a 65-58 deficit for Davie.

“Some of (Carson’s 3s) were not hard close-outs,” he said. “Some of it was breakdowns and lack of communication.”

Davie found no way to slow Carson, falling behind by 17 with 5:42 to go. But the War Eagles played vigorously until the very end. Starnes, who had eight points in the fourth, hit three free throws to cut it to nine with 1:27 left. Slabach’s runner cut it to nine. Mua, who scored 14 in the second half, pulled Davie to 87-80 with 24 seconds on the clock.

Carson scored the most points ever in a win. It put five players in double figures. It outscored Davie 33-18 from behind the arc. And it outscored Davie by 14 points at the foul line, going 33 of 51 to Davie’s 19 of 28.

While the defensive effort irked Absher on a number of occasions, he liked what he saw at the other end. Starnes had 18 points and several assists. Mua, who averaged four points last year, had 16 points and 10-plus rebounds. His career high in points was 11. Walton, who averaged 13.8 last year at Ellis Middle, wasn’t fazed by the varsity level, scoring 13. Slabach had 11. After two days of practice following the end of football season, Wall came off the bench for nine. McDaniel also had nine. And Heiner pulled down double-figure rebounds.

Last year Carson edged Davie 62-59.

“They have everybody back and we’ve got most everybody back,” Absher said. “You felt like it was going to be a really competitive game, and it was. We were very balanced. Our transition game was good.

“Overall, I loved our energy. I loved our intensity. We played hard the whole game. We just had a bad stretch at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth.”

Carson 89, Davie 81 – Nic Starnes 18, L.P. Mua 16, Michael Walton 13, Heath Slabach 11, Cooper Wall 9, Jordan McDaniel 9, Gabe Gonnella 2, Peyton Hampton 2, Cory Heiner 1.