CARTHAGE Down two starters, including its leading scorer, the Carthage boys basketball team went into survival mode Tuesday night, opening the Section 3 Class A playoffs undermanned and just hoping to advance.
With senior Keyan Pinnock picking up the scoring slack with a game-high 23 points, and with several other reserves contributing significant minutes, the second-seeded Comets accomplished their goal with a 59-40 win over No. 6 Camden in the quarterfinals.
Carthage (18-1) advanced to the Class A semifinals for the second straight season where it will meet defending champion Bishop Ludden at 3 p.m. Saturday at Onondaga Community Colleges SRC Arena. Bishop Ludden (17-2), the second seed, eliminated No. 7 New Hartford 54-30 Tuesday night.
Junior point guard Peyton McLaurin, averaging 15.3 points, was too ill to go. As was junior center Jake Redmore, who rolled his ankle in practice Monday and was not in uniform Tuesday.
So coach Jeff Ventiquattro moved Pinnock to the point, inserted valuable reserve Dylan James into the starting lineup and called on utility men Jaequan McNeal, Steve Henri and Tyler Clemons to fill in for the absent players.
I thought at some point this season our depth would be a factor, Ventiquattro said. The kids who filled in played really hard and gave us great minutes. As I told them before the game, it doesnt matter how ugly it is, a win tonight would be great.
Carthage used a 20-9 third-quarter spurt to pull away after building an early double-digit lead. The Blue Devils (10-8) then cut the deficit to four points early in the second quarter.
Pinnock scored 13 first-half points off an assortment of drives, and a pair of 3-pointers.
Pinnock said he needed to become more aggressive offensively without McLaurin on the floor.
Its not like I havent done it before, Pinnock said. Ive had some good scoring games this season. Tonight, I just took what they were giving me.
Ventiquattro said Pinnock accepted the challenge and did a good job of getting us into our offense. Hes certainly capable of scoring. Tonight we needed him and he came through.
Senior Walter Jeter contributed 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Carthage. Jeter said the key to his teams dominance was playing a lot harder with Peyton and Jake out. We did a great job of getting to loose balls and winning the scramble plays.
Carthage, which had not played in 10 days, jumped out to an 8-0 lead as Pinnock scored five points.
The Comets led 15-4 after one period, but Camden scored seven straight points early in the second quarter to move within 15-11.
Pinnock added another driving basket, a free throw and a 3-pointer over the final five minutes of the period to help give his club a 27-16 halftime edge.
Once we stopped giving them second and third shots, we were able to take control again, Pinnock said. Weve got to clean up our boxing out before Saturday.
Jeter converted a three-point play to begin the second half, Andrew Smith scored on a 2-on-1 break and Pinnock scored on another drive to boost the Carthage lead to 34-18 early in the third quarter.
The lead grew to as much as 42-19 with two minutes left in the third period.
I thought our ball movement (against their zone) was really good, Ventiquattro said. We got the ball to the foul line then looked opposite really well. But if we dont rebound better against Ludden, its going to be a long day.
Ryan McCarthy led Camden with 17 points.