Andrew Carr (above) had some massive dunks and blocks as East won its first-round state playoff game. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Sam Istvan (@hooplove215)
NORRISTOWN –– Andrew Carr took one dribble, gathered and then soared through the air, high above the rim, arms outstretched. Time was frozen for just a second.
Carr, a 6-foot-10 West Chester East senior, brushed off the contact of an unfortunate Gettysburg defender in mid-air, and then slammed the ball through the hoop, letting out a primal scream as he landed.
“Once the lane opened up there wasn’t really anyone there at first, so I just said I’m going to dunk it,” the Delaware commit said, “and then (the defender) kind of came in at the last second, and so that’s how it happened.”
Sitting courtside, even his father, Phillip Carr, was dumbfounded: “I was like ‘Holy smokes!’” he recalled afterwards.
“His dunks are just unbelievable sometimes,” Carr’s classmate, Tym Richardson, said. “It brings energy to the whole team and just gives us more confidence.
“When he’s up, we’re up.”
Watching the senior leap from eight feet out and deliver punishment on the rim with ease, it is hard to believe that Carr threw down his first dunk just two years ago. However, the fast-growing senior, who has grown 10 inches over the course of his high school career, is apparently a fast learner, too.
“In the three month span after AAU ended, I put on 15 pounds and that strength and that explosiveness really really helped me from the beginning of the season,” he said, “and I’ve just been trying to dunk everything ever since.”
That strength and explosiveness was on full display Friday night in a PIAA Class 5A opening-round game as he cashed in four dunks, including his highlight-reel slam, to power West Chester East to a 53-33 win over Gettysburg.
It wasn’t just dunking ability, though, that Carr displayed. He collected ten rebounds and two blocks, one of which was a magnificent, two-handed snatch. To cap it all off, Carr showed his ability to extend beyond the three-point line, swishing one through with a smooth stroke.
The versatile captain set the tone for his team bringing the energy with his ferocious dunks and blocks. Yet, beyond his contributions that show up in the box score, his demeanor was almost as impressive. Carr displayed a steely resolve, anchoring the Vikings’ man-to-man defense, one befitting of the leader of team, a role which Carr has grown into.
“Just a thrill to watch him grow, get better, wanna get better,” Carr’s father, who played at Delaware –– where his son committed last year –– remarked. “Just his whole attitude, you know, he doesn’t get frustrated about stuff. He just lets the game come to him, which I think makes a big difference.”
Richardson offered even more sparkling praise of the big man’s development as a player and a leader.
“He’s like my role model, my guy.” Richardson said.
Richardson followed the example his role model set on Friday, as behind his 13 points and Carr’s 18 points and 10 rebounds, West Chester East raced out to a commanding early lead it never relinquished.
The Vikings forced six Gettysburg turnovers in the first quarter and went 9-of-13 from the floor, all two-pointers, building a 19-8 advantage. From there, East played sound basketball the rest of the way. Junior Kieran Hefferan hit some big shots from outside, providing some support for Carr and Richardson while on the defensive end West Chester clamped down to keep Gettysburg far out of reach.
“We’re a defensive driven team so we feed off the defense,” West Chester East coach Tom Durant said. “It’s all about can we get a stop, and can we stop their best. And you know they’re gonna try to get it with their best guy.”
Gettysburg’s best guy, 6-4 junior Quadir Copeland, had a tough time on the perimeter and at the rim, dealing with the determined Vikings defense. And where Copeland found stout resistance, his teammates did as well, as Gettysburg struggled to a total of 20 points through the first three quarters of play.
There is no question that West Chester has the talent and star power, headlined by Carr, to make a run in the state playoffs. This time of year, though, the going tends to get tougher with each game and Durant knows his team will need guys to continue to step up and fill each role.
“Like we keep writing on the board, who’s this guy today?” Durant said. “Who’s gonna be the glove? Who’s gonna be the mucker? Who’s gonna be the distributor? Who’s gonna be the guy that’s the knockdown guy?”
Friday night, West Chester East found a man for each of those roles and if they can continue doing that each game, behind the star power of Andrew Carr, the Vikings will be a formidable challenger for the state championship.
WC East: 8 | 7 | 5 | 13 | 53
Gettysburg: 19 | 12 | 14 | 8 | 33
Gettysburg: 10-36 FG (3-11 3PT), 7-14 FT
WC East: 23-41 FG (4-12 3PT), 3-7 FT
Gettysburg: Copeland 20, Warren 6, Foster 5, Hankey 2
WC East: Carr 18, Richardson 13, Hefferan 13, Kushner 5, McCrae 2, Dutton 2