Carroll County built an 18-point lead and knocked down 15-of-18 free throws in the fourth quarter to hold off Christiansburg 70-56 Friday for a River Ridge District victory in Hillsville.
Carroll (8-8, 2-6 River Ridge District), which had watched leads slip away in the final four minutes in recent losses to Blacksburg and Hidden Valley, made sure it wouldn’t happen again this night. Adam Horton scored a game-high 28 points and made 12-of-13 free throws, including 6-of-7 in the fourth quarter. He also finished with a team-high 10 rebounds. Micah Johnson added 20 points and five assists and connected on all four of his attempts from the charity stripe in the final period.
“It feels really good. I couldn’t be more proud of the guys. They really played well,” said Carroll County head coach Tee Jackson. “The last four minutes still kind of gave us a scare, but they really, really played well tonight. It was a team effort. We got contributions from a lot of guys tonight.”
It was evident the Cavaliers wanted this game badly. Carroll came out playing hard and aggressive, limiting the Blue Demons to just 1-of-8 shooting and four turnovers in the opening quarter. Carroll used those elements to fuel a 14-6 lead after the first quarter and build a 10-point halftime advantage, up 28-18. Jackson said the CCHS Sports Hall of Fame ceremony prior to the game seemed to provide a little extra spark for the Cavaliers.
“The guys were out there watching the ceremony and you could see the emotion in some of the inductees and we talked about that before the game,” Jackson said. “You could just see on their faces how much it means to them, how much school means to them, their sports career here at Carroll. I think it is pretty special for our guys to be able to see that emotion right before the game. I think it carried over into the game, so I think that was great for them to get to watch that.”
Carroll started to pull away in the third quarter after Christiansburg’s Quinton Clayborne opened the period with a pair of free throws. Hodges responded with a jumper and Horton added two free throws and an offensive putback. Johnson would add a pair of free throws to complete an 8-0 run that upped the Cavalier advantage to 36-20.
Later in the period, Brogan Bowman and Hodges added layups to up the lead to 18. D’Angelo Ruff’s basket at the buzzer cut it to 42-26 heading into the fourth quarter. In the losses to Blacksburg and Hidden Valley, Jackson said it seemed like the Cavs ran out of gas. Substituting more freely and for longer stretches proved beneficial for Carroll on Friday.
“We had some foul trouble and it kind of forced us to play more guys. Once they got in there they really did a good job and really contributed. I am really, really proud of them,” Jackson said. “I know it is hard sometimes to stick with it when you are not getting a ton of playing time and stay involved mentally. Guys coming off the bench really gave us a spark and I am really happy for them.”
By pressing on defense and forcing the tempo on offense, Christiansburg scored 30 points in the fourth quarter and cut the Cavalier lead to eight on two different occasions. But Carroll made its free throws down the stretch to pull it out.
“We knew they liked to press a lot and shoot a lot of threes. I usually feel pretty good about it. If they try to press Micah, it is his third year as starting point guard and he typically handles pressure pretty well. They definitely got some steals and turnovers and made us sweat a little bit there at the end,” Jackson said. “But Micah had been in a little bit of a slump and he really busted out tonight. He played great and I am just happy all the way around.”
Aside from big games from Horton and Johnson, Hodges and Bowman each added nine points for the Cavs. Just as important was Carroll’s defense on Clayborne, Christiansburg’s massive center. Number 55 had been averaging close to 20 points in the Demons’ last several games, but was limited to 11 on Friday.
“It was (a focal point). Coach (Shawn) Good does a lot of really good stuff with their big men,” Jackson said. “He sets a lot of high ball-screens and puts you in a lot of tough positions, and so we focused the last couple of days on our help-side defense on him and trying to make him work for everything he got, trying to front him in the post and making sure we had guys on the back side on the pick and rolls. We did a good job on him for the most part but he’s a load in there and he got some buckets.”
Cburg 6 12 8 30 – 56
Carroll 14 14 14 28 – 70
Christiansburg – Brown 4 4-6 13, Cox 1 0-0 3, Simpkins 4 2-2 12, Harman 1 1-2 3, Hayden 5 0-0 10, Nagle 1 0-0 2, 3 5-8 11. 3-pointers – Simpkins 2, Cox 1, Brown 1.
Carroll County – M. Johnson 5 7-8 20, L. Johnson 0 2-3 2, Bowman 3 3-4 9, Horton 8 12-13 28, Hodges 4 1-3 9, Williams 1 0-0 2. 3-pointers – M. Johnson 3.
Carroll Co. 53, Grayson Co. 40
Adam Horton and Garret Haynes combined to outscore Grayson County Jan. 23 in Carroll County’s 53-40 non-district victory over the Blue Devils in Hillsville.
Horton led all scorers with 23 points and Haynes added 19 as the duo combined for 42 points, two more than Grayson County (5-9) scored as a team. Caden Hodges added 11 points for Carroll as those three provided all of the Cavaliers’ scoring for the night.
Carroll built a 29-18 halftime lead, but the Blue Devils pulled to within 34-30 heading into the final period. The Cavaliers outscored Grayson 19-10 in the fourth to pull away for the win.
Tanner McPherson scored 11 points and Jake Hollinsworth added 10 for the Blue Devils.
Horton 23, Hodges 11, Haynes 19
Grayson 13 5 12 10 — 40
Carroll 18 11 5 19 — 53
Grayson County – McPherson 11, Hollinsworth 10, Ayers 9, Moore 8, Phillips 2. 3-pointers – Ayers 1.
Carroll County – Horton 23, Haynes 19, Hodges 11. 3-pointers – Hodges 3, Horton 1.
Allen Worrell can be reached by caling (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN