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HILLSVILLE –– For the record, when Carroll County coach Brad Hawks said he was proud of the fight his team showed, he was speaking solely in the figurative sense.
After giving up 20 unanswered points in the first quarter, the Cavaliers battled back to as close as four points following a late-game scuffle before Salem held on for an 82-73 win in a fiery River Ridge District boys’ game Friday night.
The contest followed a ceremony that inducted eight former CCHS luminaries as the inaugural class of the school’s sports hall of fame, but Salem had the Cavaliers seeing stars early on, jumping to a 26-9 first-quarter lead. The Spartans saw their advantage see-saw from 19 points to 10, back to 18 and then 10 again by the fourth quarter.
Winston Giles put back his own miss and completed the three-point play for a 72-62 score when a loose ball on the inbounds resulted in a tangle on the floor between Giles and the Spartans’ Austin Coulling in front of the Salem bench.
Players, coaches, officials, administrators and local law enforcement spent a few moments pulling, pushing and restraining one another – with a punch reportedly included in the action – before order was restored.
The officiating crew finally slapped Salem’s Troy Mann and Carroll’s Blake Dalton and Cody Keith with technical fouls and Salem’s NaQuan Poindexter with a flagrant foul and an ejection, though Poindexter was never in the game.
“I was proud of our kids for their fight and for showing class,” Hawks said. “I’m more proud of our guys for losing with class than for being classless. They had each other’s backs. The bench guys never left the bench. I don’t think it was handled right, but they [officials] make mistakes like the rest of us.”
Carroll County was awarded two technical shots and the ball, resulting in Giles sinking three of four free throws. Keith rebounded the miss to set up a Connor Lundy 3-pointer, and the Cavaliers were within a 72-68 count with 3:38 to play.
But Coulling – whom Hawks felt should have received the flagrant foul and the early exit – swished a 3-pointer and, after two Keith foul shots, completed a three-point play, widening the Salem lead back to 78-70.
“I don’t know how a kid slams another kid down, then scores [six] points,” said Hawks.
The Cavaliers would be no closer than seven the rest of the way, though they did have their chances. After Keith’s free throws, Carroll had two errant 3-point attempts before Coulling’s three-point play.
Mann, whose technical foul was also his fifth personal, led all scorers with 23 points. Coulling tossed in 19, including four 3-pointers, while Will Pratt and Alex Light added 14 each.
Light and Pratt sparked the Spartans’ huge first quarter with a combined 17 points. Salem, which has losses to Blacksburg (2-15) and Christiansburg (5-12) this year, reeled off 20 unanswered points ending with a Mann three-point play for a 23-4 lead.
“When you don’t press hard, when you walk around on the floor and don’t play to contact that’s what happens,” said Hawks. “You allow people to pick you apart. We did some uncharacteristically bad things tonight and that was the difference in the game.”
Carroll pulled to within 34-24 on a Blake Dalton 3-pointer midway through the second period but Mann’s three-point play stretched the gap back to 18 points, 44-26. Lundy knocked down a long trey to end the half with Carroll down 46-33. The Cavaliers drew to within 50-40 at 3:45 of the third but was back down 60-42 a minute and a half later.
“We took a couple of bad shots, we didn’t value our possessions and had a couple of turnovers in that stretch,” Hawks said. “Those things really come back to bite you.”
Keith and Gunnar Beamer scored 17 apiece – Keith along with 10 rebounds – to lead Carroll. Dalton added 15 and Lundy finished with 14.
Salem....................26 20 14 22––82
Carroll County........9 24 14 26––73
Salem (8-6, 4-4)
Joyce 3 0-0 8, Mann 7 7-8 23, Coulling 6 3-3 19, Parker 1 2-4 4, Pratt 4 4-4 14, Light 6 2-3 14. Totals 27 18-22 82.
Carroll County (13-4, 7-2)
Shinault 0 1-2 1, Beamer 4 8-9 17, Lundy 3 5-8 14, Keith 6 5-6 17, Giles 1 7-9 9, Dalton 5 3-3 15. Totals 19 29-37 73.
Three-point field goals – Salem 10-23 (Coulling 4, Joyce 2, Mann 2, Pratt 2), Carroll County 6-20 (Lundy 3, Dalton 2, Beamer). Rebounds – Salem 35 (Light 12), Carroll County 33 (Keith 10). Turnovers – Salem 14, Carroll County 13. Team fouls – Salem 24, Carroll County 21. Fouled out – Mann. Technical fouls – Mann, Light, Keith, Dalton.