The Carroll Times

The Student News Site of Archbishop John Carroll High School

The Carroll Times

The Carroll Times

Carroll boys basketball beats La Salle and collects first PCL win

Michael Livingston
Ian Williams takes a foul shot in the Patriots’ win against La Salle.

The Archbishop Carroll boys basketball team wasn’t supposed to be here, with a new outlook on a once bleak season, rising from some of the most uncertain circumstances in the most improbable of ways.

The five days leading up to Carroll’s buzzer-beating 49-48 win over La Salle were filled with trials, tribulations, and, above all else, doubts. 

After the school’s power was knocked out by inclement weather Tuesday night, the Pats, who were riding a five-game losing streak and sitting on a 0-3 start to the Catholic League season, were without a home to prepare for their Friday game with La Salle. 

“If anyone had to deal with what we dealt with from Tuesday on, to come out with a victory the way we did, they’d say we’re crazy,” said Carroll head coach Francis Bowe. “Power goes out Tuesday night. We’re at Competitive Edge Gym on Wednesday sharing the court with volleyball players. Thursday comes about, it’s the same thing – sharing a court with a volleyball team. Today comes around. We don’t get the news until about one o’clock that we’re having a game and these guys thought we were heading back to Competitive Edge. To come out here, play as hard as we did, and hold them to 48 points: this group grew up today.”

Grow up they did, following blowout losses to Neumann-Goretti and Saint Joe’s Prep, along with a heartbreaker to Archbishop Ryan. Things looked bleak for the Pats as they headed into the meat of the Catholic League schedule. It was clear that emotions were getting the best of players and the losing was taking a toll on everyone, especially one Ian Williams. 

Williams (sophomore), the club’s only captain and leading scorer, had led the team through the early portion of the season with huge offensive outputs night in and night out. However, heading into the Catholic League season, he had struggled to find a footing. That was until his last time out against Saint Joseph’s Prep. Williams led the Pats in a 20-point loss to the Hawks with 23 points on the night. After the game, Williams was distraught and emotional, wallowing in the corner of the Kelly Fieldhouse at Saint Joe’s Prep as the losses took their toll on the young guard.

“He’s a leader, he’s a natural born leader, he’s the captain of this program and I had countless conversations with him after our loss to St. Joe’s Prep,” said Bowe. “I said, you know you have to understand that you need to have fun. Like, this is fun. Basketball is fun. His response to me is, like, ‘Losing is not fun, Coach.’”

No one enjoys losing, especially the Pats, and especially Williams, and that showed during the La Salle game. 

“The last three days have been a grit and grind, having to get a gym, having to practice at different places,” said Williams. “We focused on defense. You know, the last few games, teams have been scoring 70-80 points on us, which can’t happen. Tonight we did a great job, keeping them under 50 and fighting till the end. But we need to stay in the gym, defend, and stay together – everything else will work itself out.”

Things may have looked a little less bleak when the Pats looked down at the schedule to see that Friday’s game was not against one of the Catholic League favorites. Nonetheless, they may have faced off with one of the scrappiest teams in the PCL in La Salle. The Explorers (0-4 PCL) have lost three of their four league games by three points or less, including a three-point loss to St Joe’s Prep just days earlier. Despite the fact Carroll held a steady lead on them through the fourth period, the Explorers came right back and nearly stole it from right under the Pats’ noses. 

A quick start has been the recipe for success for Carroll as of late. With a 14-3 lead heading into the final minutes of the first quarter, it looked as though the Pats had it all under wraps – until they didn’t.

The period ended on a 6-0 La Salle run as the Explorers tightened it up at 14-9 and kept it close through the second as they trailed by only three at halftime, 24-21. 

A low-scoring third period looked promising for the Pats as they outscored La Salle 8-7 by solely out-defending them. Carroll headed into the fourth with a narrow 32-28 advantage. 

One thing that helped Carroll mightily through the meat of the game was the return of freshman forward Munir Grieg, who had been sidelined with an ankle injury during the team’s last three games. This opened numerous options for Carroll as they kept the lineup constantly fresh with a turntable of substitutions. Nate Rusike and Drew Corrao came off the bench on multiple occasions to serve in big spots, something that hadn’t been able to be done against Ryan and Prep. 

Corrao, who added just four points on the night, made his presence felt in a big way during the fourth quarter. Following a La Salle run that saw the Explorers take a 33-32 lead with 6:30 to go, Corrao would sub in and tip in a missed layup over the La Salle defender’s heads to bring the game back to a draw with just 43 seconds to go. 

After a round of timeouts from both sides, the Explorers gained possession back and held onto the ball for only 40 of the clock’s 43 seconds before laying it in to take the 48-46 lead. That left 3.2 seconds on the clock for the Pats to make one final attempt to win the game.

With a full-court defensive press on from La Salle, Williams took the inbound pass and ran down the court whilst double-teamed by two La Salle players. Down by two, the Carroll guard flailed his body on the cusp of the three-point line sending up a prayer floater, and dropped it in – all net. Just like that, the week of struggles and confusion, along with an uncertain start to the Catholic League season, was over.

“I am so hyped for Ian, man,” said sophomore forward Luca Foster. “He actually didn’t come off the double screen like he was supposed to and he went the other way because it wasn’t very open and then he came down the court and shot a floater from the three. That was wild. It was great.”

With the win now, Carroll moves to 8-5 on the year with a 1-3 mark in the Philadelphia Catholic League as they look ahead to an MLK Day rivalry game against Monsignor Bonner at 4 PM in Carroll’s East Gym.

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