For Carroll County, Thursday night was all about redemption. But most importantly, the Cavaliers’ 62-47 blowout win over E.C. Glass earned Carroll (18-5) a berth in the Conference 24 championship game and the Group 4-A North Regionals.
Coming off a school-record tying 24 wins last season, the Region IV champion Cavaliers were upset by E.C. Glass 61-46 in the Group AA state quarterfinals last March. Carroll County came out on a mission Thursday night, playing a fiery brand of unselfish and passionate basketball looking to settle the score against the Hilltoppers from Lynchburg.
“We were looking to get some revenge on them. We didn’t like the way they ended our season last year. They blew us out,” said Carroll County senior point guard Gunnar Beamer. “So we were looking to get the crowd pretty hyped coming in, to get a big win and move on to the conference championship game.”
The Cavaliers certainly got a packed house involved from the beginning. After falling behind 2-0, Carroll’s Dane Shinault put the Cavaliers ahead for good with the first of his four 3-pointers. Winston Giles, who like Shinault finished with 14 points, made it 5-2 with a jumper. Cody Keith then brought down the house with a thunderous dunk that put Carroll ahead 7-2 and set a revived Cavalier student section into a frenzy.
“We wanted it real bad. They came in all cocky, trying to dunk the ball in warm-ups, throwing alley-oops to each other. It just felt good to beat them, get back at them for the embarrassing loss we had last year to them,” said senior Connor Lundy. “It was good to see the whole team involved. It was a good team win tonight.”
The Cavaliers shot a sizzling 8-of-12 from the field in the first quarter, yet just led 19-16 after Ta-Hee Jeter drilled a 3-pointer with six seconds left in the opening frame. Carroll limited E.C. Glass to just five points in the second quarter, however, and extended its lead to 29-19 as Giles hit a 3-pointer, Keith scored inside, and Beamer finished an old-fashioned 3-point play.
Last year, E.C. Glass absolutely hammered Carroll on the boards, outrebounding the Cavaliers 51-29. This time, Carroll hit the boards with a vengeance, limiting the Hilltoppers’ second-chance opportunities.
“That’s the best we’ve played all season. I thought we played very much within ourselves tonight,” Carroll County head coach Brad Hawks said. “And I thought that was the best we’ve boxed out against maybe the most athletic team we’ve played other than Patrick Henry. I thought that was the most we’ve boxed out, the most unselfish we’ve played, and it was so balanced. Dane Shinault and Winston Giles really stepped up. I couldn’t ask for anything more from both of those guys.”
The Cavaliers also did a complete 180 from last year’s loss to Glass on the offensive end. In the state quarterfinal a year ago, Carroll shot an ice cold 2-of-23 from 3-point range and made just 28.6 percent of its field goals. On Thursday, the Cavs knocked down seven 3-pointers and shot 52.2 percent (24 of 46) from the field. On the other side of the floor, Carroll held Glass to 37.2 percent (19 of 51) shooting.
“When we actually play defense, we look pretty good. And if we box out like that, I’ll take our team over anybody,” Hawks said. “It’s the most unselfish we’ve played. The difference between last year’s team and this year’s team, I think last year’s team peaked maybe a little too early. This year, these guys are starting to play with the most togetherness at this time of the season, which is a great thing.”
Carroll pulled away in the third quarter as Shinault opened the second half with a 3-pointer. Giles and Beamer then scored on back-to-back running floaters, and Shinault drilled another triple from the corner to increase the Carroll lead to 39-28. After Duncan Reece scored off an assist from Giles, E.C. Glass head coach Roy Roberson got hit with a technical foul. Beamer’s ensuing free throws increased the Cavalier cushion to 43-28.
Shinault then canned his third 3-pointer of the quarter, and Keith scored on a layup to finish off a 12-0 run that put Carroll in front 48-28 late in the third. Glass never got closer than 14 points as Carroll was content to hold the ball most of the fourth quarter.
Beamer and Giles led Carroll with 14 points each, while Shinault finished with 12 and Keith added 10 points. Hawks credited the Cavalier student section and the Carroll community for playing a big part in the win. The Carroll coach personally sold 100 tickets during school on Thursday to students, and he said the renewed energy from the student section paid huge dividends.
“Anybody that doesn’t think our home crowd and the way Carroll County supports us doesn’t have anything to do with it, they’re crazy,” Hawks said. “Our kids need to know how important they are and the community needs to know how important it is to show out at games like this for our guys. It’s just unbelievable. I’m just real proud, not only of our guys, but of the coaching staff, our administration, our community - everybody. I am just very, very proud to be a part of something like this.”
With the win, Carroll advanced to the Conference 24 championship game Friday at 7 p.m. at William Fleming. With a win, the Cavs will host a Group 4-A North Region home game on Tuesday, Feb. 25. If Carroll loses, it will be on the road Tuesday.
E.C. Glass 16….5..15…11 - 47
Carroll Co. 19..10..21..12 - 62
E.C. Glass – Troyer 0 1-2 1, R. Jones 1 2-3 5, T. Jones 0 1-2 1, Stokes 8 0-0 16, T. Brown 1 0-0 2, S. Brown 3 1-2 7, Garland 1 0-0 2, Bateman 4 2-3 10, Jeter 1 0-0 3. 3-pointers – Jeter 1, R. Jones 1.
Carroll County – Shinault 4 0-0 12, Beamer 4 5-6 14, Lundy 2 0-0 4, Keith 5 0-2 10, Giles 5 2-2 14, Dalton 3 0-0 6, Reece 1 0-0 2. 3-pointers – Shinault 4, Giles 2, Beamer 1.
Allen Worrell can be reached by calling (276) 728-7311 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN.