Boys prep hoops preseason countdown: #6 CARROLL CHARGERS
During the 2014-15 and 2015-16 boys basketball seasons, Carroll did a couple of things with great abundance: The Chargers defended well and in turn, they won a lot.
In those two seasons, Carroll won a total of 45 games and a pair of IHSAA Class 4A sectional championships.
And then there was last year.
“We gave up 13 points more per game last year than the previous year,” veteran Charger coach Marty Beasley told News-Sentinel.com recently.
It was 12.7 points per game to be exact and Beasley explained that was a big reason as to why the Chargers stumbled to a 13-10 record.
“It was a little bit due to personnel,” Beasley said, “and then we had guys that didn’t buy into the guarding as much as we had in the past.”
That begs the question, will Carroll bounce back with a solid season this year?
As down as he was about how last season turned out, Beasley is that enthusiastic about this coming year.
“The guys that we have this year,” Beasley explained, “they are united, together, they want to guard.”
Of Carroll’s 10 defeats last year, six were by single digits, so a modest improvement defensively could go a long way in getting the win total back up where Beasley expects it to be.
“These guys understand that that was a staple that we have had in the past,” Beasley said. “We didn’t do it last year and they are upset about it.”
Not only is Beasley pumped up for this season, so are his players.
Beasley said the enthusiasm through fall workouts has been very noticeable.
“We’ve had an incredible fall,” Beasley said. “It’s probably the best fall that we’ve had since I’ve been coaching at Carroll.”
That is quite the statement, because Beasley has been guiding the Charger program for 13 seasons.
“The ownership of the little things,” Beasley said, “that you have got to do each day, they are great leaders to each other and they are accountable to each other.”
Beasley explained that there has been a lot of coaching from within his program, as the players are instructing each other on those “little things,” that ultimately add up to a lot.
“They want to play for each other,” Beasley said. “They want to play for Carroll and not individually.”
The Chargers return just one double-figure scorer from last season, but he is a big piece to the Carroll success puzzle.
Senior forward Riley Perlich averaged 10 points and pulled down nearly four rebounds per game a year ago and the 6-foot-4 athlete will be counted on again this season.
Perlich will be joined up front by classmate Nathan Fish (6-foot-4) and junior David Ejah (6-foot-4).
A young contributor could be 6-foot-3 sophomore forward Hunter Perlich, as well as juniors Preston Shearer (6-foot-2) and Luke Relue (6-foot-2).
Carroll does have some offensive potential in its backcourt in senior guard Arius Jones (6-foot-4) and 6-foot junior Daniel McKeeman, both of whom averaged nearly eight points per game last season.
Those two will be joined by 6-foot senior Reece Swoverland and newcomers Richie Gross (6-foot-1, sophomore) and Blake Pocock (6-foot junior).
Jones dished out over four assists per game as a junior.
“The camaraderie is really good,” Beasley said. “They are able to communicate to each other and teach each other without being defensive. They are not blaming each other. They are not defending themselves when things go wrong, they are taking ownership of it.”
THE BIG QUESTION
Can Carroll compete for a SAC title this season? Carroll is way too big of a school not to be in the race for a league title on a regular basis. The Chargers have all of the necessary ingredients: the athletes, coaching and facilities to be good every year.
Last year, however, Beasley’s boys slumped to a losing record (4-5) within the league.
“Guarding,” Beasley said of what it will take to compete with the top SAC teams, “but also executing the game plans. That wasn’t followed a few times (last year).”
Carroll doesn’t return an abundance of experience, but better defensive play and team chemistry will lead to this program taking a step forward in the SAC this season.
BIG GAME TO WATCH
Feb. 16 at Homestead
Beasley must have a lifetime contract with the schedule that he plays on an annual basis. The Chargers take on a long list of not just great teams throughout northeast Indiana, but Carroll will battle teams from everywhere.
The Chargers will face South Bend Adams, Warsaw, North Central, Merrillville and Penn this season, just to name a few of the out-of-area teams on their schedule. However, bragging rights – as well as a possible piece of the SAC race – will unfold in mid-February against the Chargers’ biggest rival, and the Spartans will be a tough out.