Carroll puts physical imprint on win over Cheltenham
WYNCOTE >> Luke House can feel the difference.
The Archbishop Carroll senior feels stronger, fitter, faster and better across the board on a basketball court and it’s a feeling he knows many of his teammates share. House and his teammates put a lot of hours into the weight room and the results are not only visible, but making a mark in games.
Carroll put its strength to work Monday night as the Patriots took down host Cheltenham 72-43 behind a physical defensive effort and a well-rounded offensive showing.
“We shared the ball, we’ve been emphasizing it in practice and tonight we did a really good job,” House said. “We have a lot of shooters so if we find the open man, we’re going to hit shots.”
Every player who saw the floor scored at least one basket for Carroll and six Patriots players scored at least eight points. While the offense came out firing, with Carroll connecting on five of its first seven 3-point tries, the defense really set the tone.
Cheltenham got off to a frigid start offensively, hitting just one of its first 12 shots from the floor. While the Panthers, who at one point were just 4-of-21, failed to connect on some open looks, Carroll’s defensive work also helped force quite a few of those missed shots.
Playing a 2-3 zone, the Patriots enhanced it by aggressively pressuring ball handlers up top, closing out on shooters and collapsing on drives. Of course, a good defensive possession only ends with a rebound and Carroll did an excellent job of controlling the glass as well.
“Shots weren’t falling early and it slowed us up on defense,” Cheltenham senior Tim Myarick said. “This was one of the most physical teams we’ve seen so far so in that aspect it was a good learning experience. We saw what we need to do and we’re going to get better as the year goes on as long as we stay together.”
House, who scored eight points, pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds, many of them in traffic and putting that work lifting weights to good use. Tairi Ketner had eight rebounds while he and Anquan Hill provided a physical interior presence that altered plenty of Panthers shots around the rim.
“We lift almost every day if we don’t have a game,” House said. “I think it gives us an advantage for sure. I know I’ve gotten stronger and feel more physical out there.”
Cheltenham, which committed 18 turnovers, only managed three points in the first quarter and spent the rest of the game trying to dig out of that deficit. Carroll didn’t make it easy either, aside from their ability to create turnovers and tough shots defensively, the Patriots didn’t rely on just one or two players to do the scoring.
“We used our length to create deflections, we tried to get our hands on the ball and it really worked,” House said.
Ny’Mire Little led Carroll with 12 points, Amiri Stewart scored 11 and the quartet of House, Zaiair Jenkins-Johnson, John Camden and Ketner all posted eight points. All but Ketner in that group of six also hit at least two 3-point shots.
Even though the Panthers got better after halftime, Carroll just seemed to have an answer to every good play they were making.
“At first our shots weren’t going in, but they were closing out hard all game,” Myarick said. “We started hitting more shots in the second half but it was too late. We tried to stick together, but there was only so much we could do.”
Both the Panthers and the Patriots have some similarities. There’s a relatively fresh cast filling out the rotations on each team and both programs are playing under first year head coaches.
House, the only returning Carroll starter from last year’s team, likes the way his group has meshed so far. Ketner, Little and Kiyl Mack came off the bench for the Patriots last year, but they’ve taken on bigger roles for the Patriots, who also dropped from Class 5A to 4A this season.
“We’ve meshed well, guys knew what they had to do and they’ve worked hard at it,” House said. “This was our last nonleague game, so it was a good win for us but we just have to keep working.”
Myarick, Zahree Harrison and Kyin Healey are the main holdovers for Cheltenham, which is mixing in some underclassmen and first-year varsity guys. Freshman Justin Moore got plenty of minutes Monday while juniors Jaelen McGlone and Sean Emfinger, senior Jalen Mickens and sophomore Mike McClain also chipped in.
Cheltenham, which is now 7-4, still feels it is far from a finished product.
“I think there’s another level we can get to, but we have to do it together,” Myarick said. “I can tell these guys are getting better and they’re going to continue to as the season goes along. We started to fall apart a little bit tonight, so we saw the need to stick together. That’s the biggest thing for us.”