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Jackets fall to Salisbury


SALISBURY | Buster Hillie had leapt into the stands to retrieve the ball on three occasions Friday night.

So it was no sweat when all he had to do was swat it away from Lexington’s Raekwon Byrd in the final seconds to secure a 56-50 victory for Salisbury, its third win in four games. Hillie led the Hornets with 18 points and kept his squad in playoff contention in the Central Carolina Conference.

“Hustling,” Hillie said emphatically. “Coach gives that mentality to go out with everything. Don’t leave nothing on the floor.”

Hillie’s steal came with 10 seconds left with Lexington down 53-50 and led to an intentional foul of Corban Usry. Salisbury (7-15, 3-5) hit 8 of 10 free throws in the final 30 seconds to cement things.

“We’re already in tournament mode,” Salisbury coach Jason Causby said. “We know we have to win to advance. That’s how we’re viewing each game.”

Lexington gained a 21-11 lead before Salisbury cut it to 27-24 at halftime after Hillie’s reverse layup at the buzzer. Hillie started the second half with another layup and Nick Brown got an easy two after a steal to put the Hornets ahead. Tyler Petty got an and-one after the Yellow Jackets committed their third-straight turnover. Salisbury led 39-34 at the end of the third quarter.

“We made about three crucial turnovers that hurt us,” Lexington coach Robert Hairston said. “We let Hillie get to the rim a few times too often.”

Hillie and Brown added baskets to start the fourth but Lexington slowly crept back into it and took the lead after back-to-back 3s from Nolan Benson and Melquavious Covington at 44-43 with 5:20 left. The teams traded baskets and Salisbury went up for good on Jon Mark Petty’s jumper with 2:12 left.

After Hillie forced a turnover, Keion Adams went strong to the hoop and got a three-point play to make it 50-46 with 1:40 to go. Marquell White hit a layup on the ensuing possession but the Yellow Jackets never got closer.

Benson notched 18 points for Lexington (7-14, 4-4).