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High school basketball: Carthage’s McLaurin ready for state play

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CARTHAGE — Peyton McLaurin has the shot of a lifetime.

The Carthage Central School basketball standout is the only boy in the north country to compete for the Central team in the Basketball Coaches Association of New York Summer Hoops Festival beginning Friday.

“I didn’t think I was going to get picked,” said McLaurin, who tried out for the team last summer but did not make the cut.

The 17-year-old said this year the majority of players are from the Syracuse area. Only 12 made the final cut.

McLaurin finished the 2013-14 season scoring 283 points, hitting 40 3-pointers and 45 free throws. He made the Class A all-state ninth team and Times All-North first team. Carthage finished 18-2, falling to Bishop Ludden, 62-48, in the Section 3 Class A semifinals.

McLaurin will compete alongside two Bishop Ludden players, including Zach Walser and Jack Rauch. Other teammates include Romero Collier and Terrence Walker, Henninger; Tyvon Reed and Daquan Testamark, Utica-Proctor; Jordan Roland of Westhill; Tim Borza of Whitesboro; Connor Evans of Cicero-North Syracuse; Jah-Meer McDuffie of East Syracuse-Minoa; Tyler Sullivan of Liverpool. Coaches include Matt Jacob of Liverpool and Henninger’s Eric Saroney and Jason Dudzinski.

The Central team consists of players from Sections 3 and 10, although no representative from Section 10 is on the team this year. Central plays in Pool A alongside Rochester, Nassau and Hudson Valley.

Games will be held in Johnson City near Binghamton. McLaurin and Central will play their first game Friday against Hudson Valley at 5:30 p.m. The following day the boys will take on Nassau at 10:30 a.m. and Rochester at 7 p.m. Championship games will be held Aug. 3.

The tournament was initially held during the Empire State Games. But those games have been canceled five of the last six years. The BCANY Board of Directors developed Summer Hoops Festival four years ago and it runs as a replacement to the ESG.

McLaurin said the group scrimmaged this past weekend. Each team is given up to four days of practice prior to the tournament.

“We were kind of sloppy the first time. We’re getting used to playing and we played some runs,” he said. “Our coach said Adirondack and Albany have taller players and the tallest people on our team are, like, 6-foot-5.”

The incoming senior is 6-foot-3. He has been playing basketball since he was 4 years old.

“We need to work on better defense and rotations; picking up our pace,” McLaurin said.

McLaurin will head into the Comets’ season this winter as a team leader, as three of the starting five have graduated.

“I’m just looking for experience to play against better players, better competition,” McLaurin said. “I just have to get more confidence in myself ... I know when I come back here I’m going to have to be a leader.”

McLaurin’s high school coach, Jeff Ventiquattro, said that the competition could be a good opportunity to be spotted by college scouts.

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