Carroll County opened the Fort Chiswell Christmas Tournament with a block party Thursday in a 71-42 dismantling of George Wythe.
Like a lot of teams, George Wythe had problems handling the ball against the feverish press of Carroll County (7-0). But it was the Cavaliers’ post defense that set the tone from the start.
Carroll’s big men made life tough on 6-5 George Wythe center Hardy Lester, a big and physical tight end on the football team who will be playing for the University of Richmond next year. The Cavs blocked three of Hardy’s shots in the post in the first quarter and continued to harass Lester all night long. Lester finished with eight points, six of them coming on free throws.
“I think Austin (Horton) and Duncan (Reece) and Cody (Keith) and Lucas (Holder) did a heck of job inside. Really, all our post guys did a good job bodying up on Lester,” Hawks said. “He is a big, strong, physical kid and none of our kids backed down. I was real pleased with that and we rebounded well, too.”
With Carroll locking Lester down inside, the Cavs jumped out to a quick 9-3 lead. George Wythe’s only basket in the first four-and-a-half minutes was a 3-pointer by Isaac Baltazar. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers got hot from the outside, knocking down three 3-pointers in the first quarter and 10 for the game. Gunnar Beamer’s trifecta late in the opening quarter put Carroll ahead 19-10 after eight minutes.
Connor Lundy finished with a team-high 14 points while nailing four 3-pointers. He hit a pair of triples in the second quarter, the first giving his team a 31-17 advantage, and the second tickling the twine as time expired on the first half to increase the Cavalier lead to 38-23.
While Carroll County didn’t force as many turnovers as usual with 16, the Cavalier press still made life tough on the Maroons all night long.
“When we came out and put the press on them and got the tempo where we wanted it to be, even though we didn’t get the steals we usually do, we still forced some turnovers and quick shots, which is ultimately what we are trying to do,” Hawks said.
Although Horton finished with just four points, he collected eight rebounds and keyed an aggressive interior defense that frustrated Lester and 6-8 sophomore center Dylan Ray.
“We are fortunate to have a number of big guys we can throw in at people and wear them down,” Hawks said. “We can wrestle teams in the post that only have one or two big guys where we have three or four.”
With Ryan Gravley leading the way with eight assists, Carroll outscored George Wythe (0-3) 13-5 in the third quarter to up its cushion to 51-28. Horton scored three points in the frame, while Gravley and Beamer each drilled a 3-pointer in the third.
The Cavs didn’t take the foot off the pedal in the fourth when players such as Blake Dalton and Nathan Snow came off the bench. Dalton went wild in the final eight minutes, making 5-of-7 field goal attempts, including a 3-pointer, for 11 points. Snow scored three consecutive Cavalier baskets at one point as Carroll’s lead stretched to 60-33.
Dalton’s 3-pointer with a little over three minutes to play made it a 30-point game at 65-35.
“Blake played very well, scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter,” Hawks said. “And Nathan Snow ran the floor and rebounded, just doing the kinds of things he usually does for us.”
Lundy was one of four Cavaliers in double figures, joining Gravley (12 points), Dalton (11) and Beamer (10). With the win, Carroll advanced to Friday’s semifinal against Fort Chiswell.
G.W.10 135 14 - 42
Carroll19 19 13 20 - 71
George Wythe – Baltazar 5 3-5 16, France 1 0-0 2, Anders 1 1-2 4, Byrd 3 0-2 6, Crockett 1 4-6 6, Lester 1 6-8 8. 3-pointers – Baltazar 3, Anders 1.
Carroll County – Gravley 4 1-2 12, Beamer 4 0-0 10, Lundy 5 0-0 14, Keith 3 0-0 6, Lineberry 1 0-0 2, Dalton 5 0-0 11, Reece 1 0-0 2, Horton 1 2-4 4, Snow 3 0-0 6, Holder 1 0-0 2, Hayton 1 0-0 2. 3-pointers – Lundy 4, Gravley 3, Beamer 2, Dalton 1.