John Camden (above) was one of two Carroll players with 23 points in the win. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
There was some bad juju in La Salle College HS’s gym for Francis Bowe and Archbishop Carroll, even if they didn’t want to talk about it.
It was at the Explorers’ den last February that the Patriots gave up a 19-point lead after three quarters, watching their dreams of a Palestra appearance die in the Catholic League quarterfinals, after coming oh-so-close.
“It was our falter, but I tried to make sure to tell the guys, we don’t think about that,” Bowe said. “It’s a new year, and we’ve got to worry about this year’s Palestra.”
Sunday afternoon’s matchup wasn’t quite as high-stakes, though with both teams fighting for positioning in the PCL, there was certainly plenty on the line. And with La Salle sporting almost an entirely new lineup against a Carroll side that also had undergone some change since a year ago, there wasn’t a lot of personal revenge on the line, either.
“I think, philosophically, that’s just what I go with,” Bowe said. “That inspiration thing, no...new team, new day, let’s just take care of business.”
And though a scrappy La Salle squad knocked in more than a dozen 3-pointers in an admirable upset bid, Carroll did indeed take care of business, picking up a crucial 68-64 road victory.
In ending a three-game losing streak in league play, the Patriots (12-5, 6-3) stayed in the running for a top-four seed in the PCL, and the key playoff quarterfinal home-court advantage such a slot guarantees.
“We’re one of those teams that hasn’t peaked yet, and every game we continue to improve, so that’s only going to help us in the long run,” junior wing John Camden said. “So I’m looking forward to the upcoming games and playoffs.”
But there’s no easy path ahead to pass three or four teams and earn one of those top slots, and a couple losses could mean a road game in the first round as the ninth or 10th seed. The road ahead for Carroll –– at Bishop McDevitt (7-2), vs. Wood (9-1), @ Ryan (7-2), vs. O’Hara (7-2), vs. St. Joe’s Prep (4-5) –– doesn’t have an easy game on the list, and the Patriots’ postseason paths are varied.
But, of course, the Patriots insist they aren’t focused on that, either.
“Like Coach says, if we play hard and we take care of business, the standings won’t even matter,” said senior forward Tairi ‘Huss’ Ketner, one of two Patriots along with Camden to pop in 23 points in Sunday’s win.
Ketner, a 6-foot-6 forward bound for Bryant, was an efficient 11-of-12 from the floor, though he only converted on one of his three and-one opportunities. He also grabbed 11 rebounds, his fifth consecutive double-double.
La Salle had no answer for Ketner, an expert space-clearer who used a bevy of spins and dives to get to the hoop and finish. He had at least two buckets in each quarter, scoring seven points in the first, six in the second and third, and four in the fourth.
“My confidence right now is at an all-time high,” he said.
“He’s been great,” Bowe said. “This is his last hurrah, he’s got five [regular-season] games left, and he’s been treating it like that the last three or four games, and it’s been awesome.”
Camden, a high-level sharpshooter who’s being recruited by the likes of Villanova and Penn State, was 4-of-7 from deep (6-of-10 overall). The 6-7 wing most importantly hit 7-of-8 from the foul line, all in the fourth quarter, to help the Patriots seal the win.
Though Carroll was an efficient 24-of-45 (.533) from the floor, and enjoyed a large height advantage thanks to Ketner and 6-8 junior Anquan Hill (8 points/6 rebounds/3 blocks), the Patriots couldn't shake an Explorers' team that went 13-of-30 from deep. A four-point lead after one quarter was just two at halftime and after three, though Carroll was able to gain some separation in the fourth.
Also coming up clutch for Carroll with a pair of fourth-quarter buckets on dribble-drives was freshman Dean Coleman-Newsome. The 6-2 guard had seven points to go along with five assists.
Carroll freshman Dean Coleman-Newsome (2, red) had two key drives for layups in the fourth quarter to help Carroll hold off La Salle down the stretch. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Bowe and Camden said that the youngest member of a starting lineup with two seniors and two juniors is finding his fit within Carroll’s offensive system.
“He does a great job as a point guard of finding who needs to get the rock, and he made big plays down the stretch when we needed him to,” Camden said. “And that’s what we’re going to need from him coming down the stretch and in the playoffs.”
“He had those opportunities in December and we as a staff would be like ‘you had it,’” Bowe said, “and he’s now doing it.”
La Salle got a combined 32 points off its bench, with sophomore Nix Varano (17 points) going 5-of-7 from deep, and football star Sam Brown (15 points) scoring all but two of his in the fourth quarter, including 8-of-8 from the foul line and a half-court chuck at the buzzer that cut the final deficit down its four-point margin.
Senior forward Mike DiPietro added 16 points, and senior guard Jake Timby, a Catholic commit, had four 3s for 12 points. The Explorers were 13-of-30 from deep.
The Explorers (10-9, 3-8) are now in 11th place in the PCL, one spots out of a playoff berth, though both 11th-place West Catholic (3-6) and 13th-place Devon Prep (2-6) have played fewer games. La Salle’s closing slate isn’t going to be an easy win to pick up many wins, either, with road games at Roman (Jan. 31) and Wood (Feb. 7) before closing the season at home against archrival St. Joe’s Prep (Feb. 9).
Carroll: 15 | 9 | 19 | 25 | 68
La Salle: 11 | 11 | 19 | 23 | 64
Carroll: 24-45 FG, 6-20 3PT, 14-20 FT
La Salle: 18-42 FG, 13-30 3PT, 15-17 FT
Carroll: Camden 23, Ketner 23, Hill 8, Stewart 7, Coleman-Newsome 7
La Salle: Varano 17, DiPietro 16, Brown 15, Timby 12, Simmons 2, Holland 2