Bishop Car­roll no longer a sur­prise

The Wichita Eagle - - Sports - BY HAY­DEN BAR­BER hbar­[email protected]­chi­taea­gle.com

A year ago, Bishop Car­roll was a team of in­ex­pe­ri­enced un­der­class­men who were con­sid­ered to com­pete but in no way win the City League and es­pe­cially not a state cham­pi­onship.

About 365 days later, the Golden Ea­gles are thought of as one of the best boys bas­ket­ball teams in the state. Car­roll some­what mirac­u­lously won the Class 5A state cham­pi­onship with a 43-41 over­time vic­tory against Salina Cen­tral after start­ing the sea­son 1-4.

“I didn’t re­ally buy into my own team un­til the mid­sea­son tour­na­ment,” coach Mike Do­minick said. “We were too young, too in­ex­pe­ri­enced. Now I ex­pect us to start off quickly.

“We’re do­ing things now that we weren’t do­ing un­til Fe­bru­ary last year. We’re so much far­ther along.”

Car­roll en­ters the 2018-19 sea­son with a 13-game win­ning streak. In the Ea­gles’ last 20 games, McPher­son is the only team they have lost to, and it came at the Round­house, one of the tough­est venues in Kansas.

Se­nior Gun­ner Lynch said they are hun­gry for more.

“You got to be a lot more pre­pared be­cause you know peo­ple are go­ing to be out there to get you,” seinor Carsen Pracht said. “You can’t let that hap­pen. You got to be fo­cused to start strong and stay strong.”

Do­minick said though it ap­pears his team is ea­ger to get back on the floor and prove there won’t be a cham­pi­onship hang­over, not get­ting com­pla­cent is the big­gest chal­lenge. With a se­nior-heavy ros­ter, it’s hard to be­lieve com­pla­cency would be an is­sue.

Car­roll could po­ten­tially come in with five se­niors this sea­son, but one, for­ward Cade Becker, is al­ready out with in­jury un­til Christ­mas at the ear­li­est.

The Ea­gles will run po­si­tion­less, mo­tion bas­ket­ball. Se­nior Carsen Pracht and ju­nior Tan­ner Mans will do much of the ball han­dling. Se­nior Gun­ner Lynch will be among their top re­bound­ers, and se­nior Car­son Lee is the top three-point shooter.

The roles are de­fined, and that was what got Car­roll as far as it went last sea­son. The dif­fer­ence is now the whole state knows.

“It’s kind of a dif­fer­ent mind­set you have to have when you have that tar­get on you,” Mans said. “You don’t think about it

un­til you ac­tu­ally start to play. Coach has been telling us that all week in prac­tice, so it’s just a dif­fer­ent mind­set you have to have in games.”

Car­roll only loses one se­nior from last year’s team, but he was a big one. Luke Evans was se­lected to the Ea­gle’s Al­lS­tate team after an in­spir­ing per­for­mance in the state tour­na­ment.

Evans was the Ea­gles’ vo­cal leader and knew how to fill up a stat sheet. Car­roll will miss his pres­ence.

“On of­fense, he got ev­ery­one where they needed to be, and I think do­ing that will be a huge part this year,” Lynch said.

How­ever Evans had to take on a mas­sive role last sea­son. Com­ing into the year, Do­minick was un­sure of who of the just three play­ers with var­sity ex­pe­ri­ence would step up out­side of his one se­nior. He knows now with 11 who have put in min­utes.

And more help is on the way in Becker and sopho­more En­rique Lank­ford, who was out all of last sea­son.

With that, there are ex­pec­ta­tions for Car­roll in 2018-19. The Golden Ea­gles are the No. 1 team in Class 5A, ac­cord­ing to the Kansas Bas­ket­ball Coaches As­so­ci­a­tion’s pre­sea­son rank­ings.

“I wel­come it,” Do­minick said. “I think it’s a good thing for our kids, a new per­spec­tive and per­cep­tion that they’re now the hunted.”

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