Concord staked its spot alone atop the 1A-2 South Conference standings, using a suffocating full-court press to create several easy baskets as the Pirates rolled to a 72-39 victory over the Shirley Blue Devils on Tuesday night in Concord.
Concord staked its spot alone atop the 1A-2 South Conference standings, using a suffocating full-court press to create several easy baskets as the Pirates rolled to a 72-39 victory over the Shirley Blue Devils on Tuesday night in Concord. “I felt like we were hard on their guards,” said Concord Coach Keith Cornett. “We bothered their guards pretty bad in the first half and that was the difference in the game because those post kids they have, No. 20 [Evan Murray] and No. 11 [Daniel Strang], have really improved from last year. They are strong as bulls and can score down there.” Shirley (8-8, 4-1) hung around early, but the Pirates busted the game wide open in the second quarter, outscoring the Blue Devils 31-11. The Pirates, who led 15-9 after the first quarter, began to pull away when point guard Jacob Roark curled around a screen and drilled a three-pointer from top of the key. Following a driving layup from Evan Murray, Concord used a quick 8-0 spurt to extend its lead to double figures as guard Luke Cornett ripped a three-pointer from right wing off an assist from swingman Ryan Cornelison, then Cornett swiped a steal and hit Roark, who finished while drawing contact. After completing the old-fashioned three-point play, Roark scored again, this time driving past his defender for a layup as the Pirates' lead grew to 26-13 before Shirley forward Emory Murray turned an offensive rebound into a free throw. Cornett bombed another trey, this time from right corner off an assist from Cornelison but Strang responded inside for the Blue Devils. Concord forward Hanse Bowman then hit 4-of-4 free throws in a span of 28 seconds but Strang scored inside again, leaving the Pirates ahead 33-17 midway through the second quarter. In the final four minutes of the first half, Concord outscored the Blue Devils 13-3 as Cornelison hit a pull up jumper from left wing, then guard Cameron Reesor picked a steal and passed to Roark, who found Cornelison filling the lane for a layup, polishing off a spectacular fast-break sequence. Reesor turned another steal into a free throw but Strang scored from right block before Cornelison and Roark each drained a three-pointer, pushing Concord's lead to 44-19. With Concord leading 46-20 at halftime, Shirley edged the Pirates 15-13 in the third period behind six points from guard Keith Blair and four more from forward Emory Murray. But Cornelison, who stayed hot all night, pumped in eight points in the third stanza for the Pirates, preventing any comeback hopes for the Blue Devils. Concord cruised in the final eight minutes, eventually invoking the mercy-rule with 3:27 remaining when Reesor popped a three-pointer from left wing. Guard Dalton Sandefur added a three-pointer from right corner, setting the final at 73-39. Strang led Shirley with 11 points, while Evan Murray and Blair each scored 10. Cornelison scored a game-high 24 points for Concord (18-2, 5-0), while Roark finished with 18 and Bowman had nine.