Cody Keith’s perfect night keyed a 24-5 run down the stretch Saturday night that propelled Carroll County to a 66-48 victory over Salem and its first regional championship since 1980. The victory earns the Cavaliers a spot in the state quarterfinals against E.C. Glass of Lynchburg on Saturday, March 2 at 8:30 p.m. in the Salem Civic Center.
Keith netted all nine of his field goals attempts and all four of his free throws for a game-high 22 points. The 6-2 junior did most of his damage in the late going, scoring 14 points in the final 11 minutes of play. He also led the Cavaliers with six rebounds.
“Cody played great,” said Carroll Head Coach Brad Hawks. “The kid came straight from the ninth-grade program to the varsity last year. Once he learns how to play, he’s going to be a really good player.”
With the score tied at 36-36 with 2:51 left in the third quarter, Keith began working the baseline and Carroll guards Gunnar Beamer and Ryan Gravley got him the ball for four layups during that stretch. Salem did manage to take a 43-42 lead, their first since 14-12, with 47 seconds left in the third quarter, but Keith scored underneath and, following a Spartan miss, Gravley scored on a driving layup to put the Cavaliers up 46-43 heading into the fourth quarter.
When Salem opened the fourth quarter in a zone, Carroll went to a version of the four corners to draw the Spartans into a man-to-man. Once Salem switched to a man-to-man, Carroll took charge.
“(Salem) had us scouted real well. I will give them a lot of credit,” said Hawks. “They were calling our plays before we could call them. The fourth quarter, there is no trickiness to it. You just do what you do, and I will take Ryan and Gunnar as far as beating other people’s guards, beating them to middle. The back defenders have to pick their poison. They stepped up and guarded our guards and that is how Cody got loose.”
“Up and down is the way we like to play. I thought the kids did a really good job of keeping their poise. I think I can say our kids never gave up. They had a lot of fight and never gave up,” noted Hawks.
With time running out, Salem was forced to foul and Carroll was up to the challenge. Ten of the Cavaliers’ 14 points in the next two minutes came at the free throw line, giving them a 62-46 lead with just under two minutes to play.
Carroll was also getting the job done on the defensive end, holding Salem scoreless from the field in the fourth quarter.
“(Defense) has been our bread and butter all year long,” said Hawks, whose team committed just eight turnovers in the game, while forcing Salem into 22 miscues.
“This type of game really help us. There’s been three or four times we’ve been trailing in the fourth quarter this season,” added Hawks, whose team has now tied the best record in school history at 24-2.
He said that having played a regular season game in the Salem Civic Center during the regular season should also be a positive factor in state play. The Cavaliers suffered one of their losses there, losing to private-school powerhouse Virginia Episcopal.
“I think that will help us, just being in that atmosphere and playing the caliber of team we played there. I definitely think that will help us in the long run,” said Hawks.
Gravley and Beamer backed Keith’s inside play with 15 and 11 points, respectively, while Trey Mann had 14 points and John Repass 11 for Salem.
Salem14..14..15….5 - 48
Carroll 20..14..12..20 - 66
Mann 5 4-5 11, Hill 3 3-6 9, Repass 4 1-1 5, Pratt 1 0-0 6, McDaniel 0 0-2 0, Hudson 0 2-2 2, Marshall 0 0-1 0. Totals, 17 10—18 48.
Carroll County (24-2)
Smoot 9 0-0 0, Lundy 2 0-2 4, Horton 4 0-0 8, Gravley 3 9-10 15, Beamer 3 5-8 11, Keith 9 4-4 22, Reece 1 -2- 4, Snow 1 0-0 2. Totals, 23 20-27 66.
3-Pointers – Salem (4) Repass 2, Pratt 2.