CARTHAGE Carthage boys basketball coach Jeff Ventiquattro has lectured his Comets daily about staying mentally focused for all 32 minutes as they begin their admitted quest for Frontier League and Section 3 championships.
Carthage got it three-quarters right Friday night, playing only 24 minutes of stellar basketball against Frontier League A Division rival Indian River. But that was plenty enough as the Comets outscored the Warriors, 74-46, after owning a 65-36 edge over the final three quarters.
Senior Walter Jeter scored 22 points for Carthage (2-0), which fell behind 10-9 after the first quarter before finding its stride with a 26-point second quarter to seize a 35-25 halftime lead.
Junior Peyton McLaurin chipped in 18 points and eight assists, while senior Keyan Pinnock added 13 points for Carthage.
Jeter said the first quarter was just a case of nerves and I think us wanting to get off to a good start so badly against a big rival. Once we settled down and began playing our game on both ends, we showed what we can do.
Indian River (2-1) held Carthage to three field goals the first eight minutes, and scored the final four points to earn a one-point lead. But sloppy play on both ends of the court the second quarter by the Warriors allowed Carthage to regain the momentum and pull away.
Jeter, who was scoreless the first quarter, began the second quarter with an inside bucket.
The forward then began what turned into a 15-0 Carthage run with a free throw and added a three-point play and another inside hoop.
Pinnock scored on a pair of drives, and McLaurin knocked down consecutive 3-pointers as Carthage quickly raced to a 28-15 lead with 1:50 left before halftime.
It was 35-19 before Danny Angelo (13 points) hit back-to-back threes in the final 10 seconds to help Indian River get within 35-25 at intermission.
We had way too many mental mistakes the second quarter, said Indian River coach Tim Callahan, whose team was led overall by Shelton Williamss 14 points. And every mistake we made, they turned into points. We have to start working on mental preparation and being ready to compete harder in a game like this.
The Warriors drew within seven points (36-29) three minutes into the third quarter, and looked poised to make a run at the lead. But Carthage outscored Indian River 17-6 the rest of the quarter, led 53-36 at the quarter break, and kept pulling away in the final period.
Weve looked good in spurts during our early practices and scrimmages, but not to the point where weve been consistent all the time, Ventiquattro said. By mixing up our zone and man-to-man, we were able to increase the tempo, get some easy points and then start playing the kind of game we like.
Carthage also received a nice contribution from 6-foot-5 junior center Jake Redmore. He scored nine points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Jakes going to be really important because he can take some of the pressure off Walt and Peyton when teams double them, Ventiquattro said. Thats going to be especially important against the really good defensive teams.
As for Indian River, Callahan knows hes got to find somebody else to score.
We need at least four guys scoring on a consistent basis, he said. Right now, Im not sure where thats going to come from. But its still early December and theres a lot of basketball to be played.