The Carroll Times

The Student News Site of Archbishop John Carroll High School

The Carroll Times

The Carroll Times

Pats advance to second round of states

Archbishop Carroll’s varsity boys basketball team will play Allentown Central Catholic High School on Tuesday night at Norristown High School

The last time the Pats walked off the court in a win-or-go-home situation, the scene looked much different than that of Friday night’s 66-59 first round state playoff win over Big Spring High School at its home court in south-central Pennsylvania. 

Their last time out, Carroll was berated off the court in “The Shoebox” at Neumann-Goretti High School as the Saints celebrated yet another win over the Patriots. The win sent the Saints on yet another trip to the Palestra for the Catholic League semi finals. 

“Yeah, as a unit everyone was hurting,” said sophomore captain Ian Williams. “Nobody here likes losing. Even at practice we’re trying to kill each other. Personally, though, I took that to the chin, you know. I really haven’t taken a day off since, just having that mindset of ‘things are going to happen on this journey of my whole career.’ That Neumann game was a lesson in the mind and a learning experience for me and my team.”

A lesson it was, indeed. Following one of their most competitive Catholic League seasons in years, the Pats looked poised to make a run in the playoffs, but, expectedly so, ran into a brick wall in Neumann-Goretti. What really made the loss such a tough pill to swallow for the young Patriot roster was the fashion in which the game ended. 

Despite being held at an arm’s length for a majority of the game while dealing with a raucous Neumann-Goretti crowd, which, at one point, forced a stoppage and a threat from security to continue the game without fans if the crowd didn’t settle down, Carroll brought the score to within five points in the final minutes and faced some of the most heart-wrenching basketball of the season before falling just short. 

As the game ended, tensions ran high as players on both teams began getting chippy before Neumann closed the game out, leaving the Carroll roster stunned and emotionally drained. 

When the Pats learned that with a few wins and a luck of the draw, they could be facing off with Neumann once again in the state playoffs, things turned around real quick. 

“We let that loss marinate,” said Williams. “You just can’t be stuck in the past for too long. We’re gonna let that fuel us and get back in the gym. That is all we got to do right now. We’re going to stay working and stay locked in and everything will handle itself.”

While the mantra of ‘everything will handle itself’ may work for some things, there were other things Carroll will needed to face head on, the first being Friday’s game against Big Spring. The Pats handled it. 

With a sort of vengeance on their minds, Carroll started off the night hot, taking an early 11-0 advantage and bringing it all the to 20-3 at one point in the first period. 

While things didn’t stay that hot throughout the game, one thing did and that was the play of freshman guard Darrell Davis. Davis, who was one of the unsung heroes of Pat’s quarterfinal loss to Neumann, was the team’s leading sorcerer on the night with 23. 

“It was all about the environment,” said Davis. “We love the environment: us playing in this. It makes us come together more and makes us energetic, which helps us play as a whole. That was really what fueled us early was getting out in front of that crowd.”

A small town in south-central Pennsylvania, Newville and its surrounding areas are a tight-knit community, and like many small American towns, their culture and pride revolve around their high school, Big Spring. This is why, when the Pats rolled into the building about an hour before tip-off when a majority of gyms would just be opening up their doors, they were greeted to a hail of boos from an already overflowing student section, along with an already half-full gym. 

As the night closed, it was announced to the masses that Big Spring recorded a capacity sellout in their 1300-seat gym and it felt like it during every moment of the game, as the Big Spring faithful rallied behind their Bulldogs throughout the night and gave them a boost when they needed it most. 

While Carroll was able to continue to hold Big Spring down for some part of the first half, the Bulldogs began to mount a comeback as the second quarter came to an end. As the third quarter began, the crowd was roaring, and from that point on Carroll had a game on their hands. 

Big Spring would continue to draw close in the third quarter and eventually take a slight lead at the beginning of the fourth. However, a quick timeout and nice offensive run from Davis and sophomore Nasir Ralls put the Dogs right back in the hole. 

As the clock ran down in the fourth quarter, Carroll was finally able to shake Big Spring and avoid a few personal fouls in the final minute, advancing to round two of the PIAA State 4A Playoffs. 

“It did feel awesome,” said head coach Francis Bowe. “I’m happy for these kids because they didn’t get to experience this last year. Big Spring does an amazing job: I mean this event, the venue, and the number of fans, it was just a great overall night. As you know now, we just need to take it one game at a time from this point on.”

With the win, Carroll will prep for their second-round matchup with Allentown Central Catholic on Tuesday night at Norristown High School for a 7:30 pm tip-off as they look to punch their ticket to the quarter-finals. 


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