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Archbishop Carroll puts together massive comeback over Devon Prep

02/03/2023, 11:45pm EST
By Konner Metz

Konner Metz (@konner_metz)

Midway through the third quarter, the energy in the Archbishop Carroll gymnasium was off the charts – at least on the away side. A raucous, sizable Devon Prep student section combined with a passionate bench as the Tide soared to a double-digit lead.

Archbishop Carroll assistant Mike Richards shouts instructions to a player Friday against Devon Prep. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

When Carroll assistant Mike Richards was sent off with a double technical, arguing a no-call under the basket, Devon Prep extended the lead out to 14 points, all the momentum seemingly on its side. 

But the Patriots, spurred on by Richards’ fire, flipped the script.

“It definitely turned a switch for us,” freshman Nasir Ralls said of Richards’ reaction. “I just felt like we needed to fight for him. He fought for us, so let’s go out there and give it our all for him.”

In the late third and early fourth, a handful of forced turnovers and crunch time jump shots helped the Patriots cut the lead down to a couple buckets. From there, the game was on.

Alone in the Carroll locker room was Richards. It was there he anxiously awaited to see if his team could pull out the victory.

“That was a first for me,” Richards said. “I’ve been doing this now for 10 years at the high school level. I’d never been ejected before. I’ve never had to be in a coach’s office receiving text updates.

“They had a student section there that was fantastic and it was creating anxiety for me because I couldn’t hear whether that’s our student section or their student section. So I actually had to put some headphones in and just kind of put some music on that brings my soul to peace and just kind of relax.”

Fortunately for Richards, the cheers he was hearing were all Carroll. The Patriots closed the game on a massive run, picking up a 76-67 win over Devon Prep on Friday night.

Richards was waved off the court by the Devon Prep students when he received his back-to-back technicals, but the even larger home student contingent across the stands got the last laugh, giving a farewell to the opposing fans who waltzed out the door, with Carroll up multiple possessions in the final minute.

“I’m more like speechless, because everything that transpired, I would never want to happen,” Carroll head coach Francis Bowe said. “Two technical fouls, me sitting [and coaching]. But the kids fought. That’s how connected we are.”

Archbishop Carroll sophomore Jake West goes up for a layup Friday against Devon Prep. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

When they returned to the locker room to celebrate, Bowe said that Richards was crying tears of joy.

Part of the reason for his heightened emotion is that this season is his final with Carroll and at the high school level for the foreseeable future. Richards said he’s preparing to shift his focus to the grassroots circuit, taking the role of assistant director with the East Coast Power. 

Carroll (13-6, 6-4 PCL) rode star performances from two of its premier guards: sophomore Jake West had 26 pts, including three triples and many timely jump shots, while senior Dean Coleman-Newsome scored 25 pts, bullying his way into the paint time and time again during his team’s second-half rally.

West spearheaded what may have been the most important sequence of the game as the third quarter closed, nailing a corner three, nabbing a steal off the Devon Prep inbound, then streaking for a layup to make it a five-point swing, bringing Carroll down only 55-49 as the penultimate frame expired.

“I hit a three, I could’ve been satisfied, I could’ve just ran back,” West said. “But instead, I got up on the ball and got a steal. I really like bringing that energy to the game.”

In the fourth, the Patriots continued racking in their unanswered 20 points, all the while sticking with a disruptive full-court press that forced Devon Prep (10-9, 3-7) into turnovers on five consecutive possessions in the late third. Stuck at 55 points, the Tide coughed the ball up nine times before their next score, and by that point, the game was flipped and Carroll had control.

Richards said the full-court press philosophy is a credit to Bowe, who talked to first-year Fairleigh Dickinson head coach Tobin Anderson last May about the defensive strategy and how best to implement it.

“Bowe has worked on this pressure defense all year, and a big reason why he put in this pressure was for games like tonight versus Devon Prep,” he said. “It ate us alive, losing to Devon Prep twice last year, at the end of the regular season and then again to knock us out of the PCL playoffs.”

Archbishop Carroll senior Dean Coleman-Newsome surveys the floor Friday against Devon Prep. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Another large boost to Carroll’s 27-12 edge in the fourth quarter was the rookie Ralls, who has been the first guy off the bench for Bowe’s squad most of the season. Of his 12 points, 10 came in the second half, including a crucial triple in the fourth, along with two buckets off of takeaways in the closing minutes.

“First half, I already missed two threes, so I’m like, I gotta turn it up,” Ralls said. “Dean trusted me on a corner three, got me started a little more, and then getting two open layups to finish the game was big.”

Devon Prep gave the home team tons of fits in the first half, thanks in large part to senior Jacen Holloway, who had 20 of his 28 points in the opening half. Carroll jumped to a 16-6 lead, but the Tide went on an extended 18-0 streak as the Patriots went cold from the field.

As Holloway dominated the paint and the offensive glass, Lucas Orchard drilled two of the Tide’s six first-half threes, and helped Devon Prep to a 39-29 halftime lead. 

“They run a really good offense by moving around,” West said. “We weren’t communicating well, so they were getting layups. And Holloway played a great game. But we just battled. One thing about this team, we don’t quit.”

There was certainly no quit for Carroll, as their shooters started to connect from spots they didn’t early on. Coleman-Newsome and Ralls each hit three-pointers to start the half, and once their massive run began, the low point a 55-41 lead for Devon Prep after the double-tech, the energy on the bench and in the stands was impossible to break.

The 6-2 Coleman-Newsome, who’s getting looks from scholarship-level programs, took over the paint offensively, and capped off the 20-0 stretch with an and-one conversion followed by a contested lay-in. 

“He better have [taken over],” Bowe said of Coleman-Newsome. “And I mean that, this is his senior year, and he has been a starter for four years, and we told him down the stretch, ‘we believe in you. Don’t be selfish, but take over.’”

Friday night’s sense of urgency was so apparent as Bowe felt coming into the game, it was a must-win for his team. They had just suffered a tough loss to league-leading Neumann-Goretti on Monday night and were mired in the middle of a tight PCL standings table.

Moreover, it came against an equally motivated Devon Prep team that was aiming to maintain a spot in the top 10 of the 14-team league to qualify for the PCL Championship. 

Despite the loss, the Tide remain at 10th in the standings, a game ahead of Bonner-Prendergast and La Salle (both 2-8), playing the former in one week’s time and holding the tiebreaker over the latter. Archbishop Ryan (8-2, T-3rd) and West Catholic (6-4, T-6th) also await coach Jason Fisher’s squad.

But as for Carroll, Bowe knows how important it was to get to 6-4 in league play, with road trips to Father Judge (4-6, 9th) and Roman Catholic (9-1, T-1st) upcoming, plus a home finale against La Salle.

“I really have no words for the energy of these kids just not giving up, and fighting for the season, and fighting for themselves, and fighting for the staff as a collective group,” Bowe said. 

“From seeding to momentum to believing in ourselves again. We’ve had a tough stretch, played rough on the road, lost to Neumann where we felt we could’ve been in the game more. Great bounce back [tonight].”

As much as Bowe was overjoyed with the win, so too were the players. It’s a young Carroll group aside from Coleman-Newsome, but with a dynamic core including freshman point guard Ian Williams, West, and Ralls off the bench, there is confidence heading into the final stretch of the regular season.

“We’re the best underclassmen in the area,” Ralls said. “We will battle anyone.”

By Quarter
Devon Prep: 12 | 27 | 16 | 12 ||  67
Carroll:         16 | 13 | 20 | 27 ||  76

Devon Prep: Jacen Holloway 28, Lucas Orchard 18, Ty Mishock 8, Shane Doyle 5, Tyler Scarpulla 5, Ben Costello 3

Carroll: Jake West 26, Dean Coleman-Newsome 25, Nasir Ralls 12, Ian Williams 8, Su'Meer Alleyne 3, Blake Deegan 2

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