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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 7:43 pm

Carroll defense steps up to beat East Noble

JOSH PATTERSON | For The Journal Gazette

The upset was right there for East Noble.

But the defending champs had a few tricks up their sleeve.

With host Carroll looking for an edge late in Tuesday’s Class 4A sectional opener, it came in the form of a trapping defense. That change gave a youthful Knight roster fits, and the Chargers scored 12 unanswered points to advance, 75-64.

“They were just torching us in our man,” Carroll coach Marty Beasley said. “But our kids finally got a couple stops. I thought we attacked pretty well (in the fourth quarter), and once we got the lead, some of our pressure bothered them and we got some turnovers. We got a couple steals and converted them to layups.”

And senior Jacob Redding proved the primary benefactor for the Chargers (13-9), scoring five straight to key the rally. Redding led all scorers with 27 points on the night, but he refused to take sole credit.

“Coming through and persevering, coming together as a team, that’s what we did,” Redding said. “We told ourselves we were going to lock up on defense, and we started putting pressure on them.”

The Knights (12-11) were more than ready for the challenge posed by the two-time reigning sectional champions. Some early baskets from freshman Hayden Jones and junior Drew Devers gave East Noble a pair of first quarter leads.

Devers paced the Knights with 17, one of four in double figures for East Noble. Jones and senior Brandon Nichols both added 15, while junior Ali Ali scored 13.

Carroll surged ahead a bit in the second quarter, as Arius Jones’ dunk over Nichols gave the visitors a 24-17 lead with 3:24 remaining before halftime.

The Knights methodically chipped away, then used an 8-0 run, including a pair of Nichols threes, to move ahead by five early in the third.

Then things really took off for East Noble, particularly from outside. The Knights banged in eight three-pointers in the third quarter, though Carroll never really went away, trailing just 53-50 at the third stop.

“Our offense got us open, guys got the ball where it needed to go and we knocked down shots,” East Noble coach Ryan Eakins said. “When you execute, you give yourself a chance. We shot a good percentage tonight, but we shot a good percentage because we were open. We got the ball where it needed to go and we executed.”

But the Chargers would ultimately step up, and it started on defense. Switching to a halfcourt trap, Carroll broke out with a 12-0 run over an 85-second stretch to turn a three-point deficit into a 65-56 advantage.

“I told our guys, ‘Let’s keep attacking’, and that worked out for us,” Beasley said.

The win sets up a date against SAC champion Snider, which won the regular-season matchup 72-54 on Jan. 27. With seven-footer Malik Williams in the middle for the Panthers, the game plan will be a little different for Carroll in Friday’s semifinal.

“We have to be selective when we attack,” Beasley said. “We have to get some fouls and get to the free throw line. We can’t settle for threes. We can’t settle for midrange jumpers.”