PHILADELPHIA Two games into the Frontier League boys basketball season, there is a lot to like about the Carthage Comets.
Coach Jeff Ventiquattrros club has defended superbly, allowing just 54 points, shown a balanced offense, and a good combination of inside and outside scoring.
Carthages 59-43 win over A Division rival Indian River on Friday night was further evidence that the Comets are certainly the team to beat. But Ventiquattro lectured his team afterward about maintaining their focus for an entire game and working every day to improve.
I know we can play better, Ventiquattro he told them. But I like what I see so far.
Sophomore newcomer Peyton McLaurin led Carthage (2-0) with 18 points. Junior Walter Jeter contributed 16 points and 13 rebounds, senior Ben Martin scored 13 points and junior Andrew Smith added 10.
Martin said there already is good team chemistry, and were communicating very well. But we need to maintain our focus and not let down like we did in a few spots tonight.
Early on, the Carthage 2-3 zone allowed the Warriors (0-2) to hit three early 3-pointers and race off to a 21-15 first-quarter lead.
We didnt do a good job locating their shooters in the zone, Ventiquattro said. When we went man-to-man, out defensive intensity picked up. And we started running our offense better.
Carthage, which began the season with a 65-11 win over General Brown, then scored the first 14 points of the second quarter, holding Indian River scoreless until the final minute to seize a 29-23 halftime lead.
It was more of the same in the third quarter as Carthage scored fairly easily, while the Warriors went stone cold. The Comets concluded a 32-2 run, taking a 45-23 lead with just under three minutes left in the quarter.
In all, Indian River went nearly 10½ minutes with just one basket before scoring the last 11 points of the third quarter to get within 45-34.
Basically, we did not run our offense for about 11 minutes, said Indian River coach Tim Callahan. We have a lot of people not sure what to do out there, and it showed in the second and third quarters.
Carthage then ran off the first 10 points of the final quarter to pull way again.
I was happy the way we withstood their early run, Ventiquattro said. Once we started being patient, and ran our offense through, we started getting good shots. And when we get the ball inside to Walter, our offense is a lot more effective.
Jeter worked inside well, making 10 free throws. And McLaurin kept the Indian River defense honest with his outside shooting, making four 3-pointers.
Peyton is a nice addition, Ventiquattro said. Hes very mature for his age, he obviously shoots pretty well, and can handle the ball against pressure.
Ventiquattro also praised the defensive effort by junior Dylan James on Indian Rivers Shelton Williams, who managed just seven points.
The physical talent is there for this to be a special group, he said. Now weve got to keep those mental lapses to a minimum.
Martin believes the best is yet to come for a young squad that has just three seniors. One through 13 weve got kids that can play, he said. There is a lot of versatility and plenty of offensive weapons. If we keep defending like the first two games, I think we can be a very good team.
Sophomore Malik Tillman led Indian River with 12 points, while Justin Mattingly and Daniel Angelo each added 10.