CARTHAGE — Peyton McLaurin has the shot of a lifetime.
The Carthage Central High School basketball star is the only boy in the Tri-County region to compete for the Central team in the Basketball Coaches Association of New York Summer Hoops Festival beginning Aug. 1.
“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. Out of between 25 and 35 potential players, only 12 made the final cut.
McLaurin finished the 2013-14 season totaling 283 points, 100 goals, 40 three-pointers and 45 free-throws. He made the Class “A” All-State ninth team and Times All-North First Team. Carthage finished 18-2 in the season, falling to Bishop Ludden, 62-48, in the Section III 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 III and X, although no representative from Section X 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 were canceled in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and now 2014. 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 firs time. We’re getting used to playing and we played some runs” he admitted. “Our coach said Adirondack and Albany have taller players and the tallest people on our team are, like, 6-foot-5.”
The in-coming senior is 5-foot-4. He has been playing basketball since he was four-years-old.
“We need to work on better defense and rotations; picking up our pace,” said McLaurin.
McLaurin will head in as a team leader this winter, as three of the starting five have graduated.
“I’m just looking for experience to play against better players, better competition,” said McLaurin. “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 coach, Jeff Ventiquattro, said that the competition could be a good opportunity to be spotted by college scouts.
The varsity basketball team has also been competing in travel tournaments this summer and are 4-0 after defeating Mexico, Chittenango, Adirondack and Christian Brothers Academy.