A good combination of quicks and bigs is tough to beat in any level of basketball.
Unbeaten Bishop Carroll showed off both in Cadillac fashion Monday night and won another Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference Section I showdown with diocesan rival Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic, 64-61 before a packed Pleasant Valley gymnasium.
With 6-foot-6 senior forward Marcus Lee scoring 24 points and dominating the low blocks, and cat-quick junior guards Scott Lucas and Brandon Martinazzi scoring 15 apiece off a variety of fast breaks and steals, Carroll improved to 20-0 overall and 10-0 in the conference section.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Bishop Carroll’s David Swatsworth puts up a shot over BG’s Brandon Chadbourn.
"They have as good an inside-outside combination as there is in the state in Lee and Martinazzi,'' Guilfoyle coach Chris Drenning said of Carroll's dynamic duo. "You know that you have to pay attention to defending against both of them, and it's tough to hold them down.''
Especially when another lightning-fast teammate like Lucas is on hand to create even more chaos for an opponent.
Lucas stole the show literally and figuratively down the stretch, enabling Carroll to cling to a lead in the final two minutes.
Senior guard C.J. Fulare's back-door layup pulled BG to within 54-53 with 2:44 left, and BG appeared to be on the verge of taking the lead when the Marauders regained possession before Lucas swiped the ball at midcourt and drove the length of the floor for a layup at the 1:57 mark. He was fouled on the play, and cashed in the free throw to complete the traditional 3-point play, giving Carroll a 57-53 advantage.
Moments later, Lucas converted another steal into another driving layup and a 59-53 Carroll lead with 1:40 showing.
"We knew this would be a tough game, especially on their home court,'' Lucas said. "Our game plan from the start was to force turnovers with our pressure, and we stuck with it tonight.''
Carroll coach Cosie Aliquo, whose squad was forced into overtime to beat BG Jan. 17 in Ebensburg, used his team's quickness to its advantage.
"One of the things we tried to do on defense was hawk the ball tonight,'' Aliquo said. "We wanted to keep it in front of us, and go get it.''
BG (17-4 overall, 8-2 conference section) never quit battling, and the Marauders made a game of it until the very end.
With junior guard Sam McCloskey muscling inside for a bucket, getting fouled, and converting the free throw, and Fulare sinking a pair of foul shots, BG moved to within 59-58 with 43 seconds left.
Carroll's speed took over again, though, with Lucas knifing through the lane and dropping in another layup to give the Huskies a 61-58 edge.
Carroll did a good job of clogging up the 3-point shooting lanes, forcing BG to miss a short shot that Lee rebounded underneath the basket with nine seconds left. Lee made one of two free throws to give Carroll a 62-58 edge and put the game on ice.
BG held Lee in check in the January game, but the big post got the better of the Marauders Monday, getting free near the rim to deposit putbacks, passes from his guards, and high-percentage shots off short drives.
"They have some good big players,'' Lee said of BG. "And in the [January] game, they kind of shut me down. Going into today's game, I just let the game come to me, and my teammates did a good job of feeding me the ball.''
Along with Martinazzi, Lee and Lucas, Aliquo had high praise for senior guard David Maruca and sophomore guard David Swatsworth, who performed well in the absence of injured guard Mitchell Madonna.
"David Maruca did a nice job of getting us into our offense, and I thought David Swatsworth did a fabulous job coming off the bench for Mitchell,'' Aliquo said. "That was one of the keys tonight.''
BG enjoyed a balanced attack led by Damon Rickens' 19 points, 13 apiece from McCloskey and junior forward Brandon Chadbourn, and 11 from Fulare. The game went back-and-forth after the first quarter, which Carroll led, 17-11.
Carroll opened a 49-43 advantage after three quarters when BG drew a technical foul for slapping the backboard following Lucas' fast-break layup. Martinazzi hit one of two technical foul shots before the quarter ended.
"They're obviously an excellent team, but we played very hard tonight,'' Drenning said. "Games like this will help us get ready for the playoffs that start next week.''
Game notes: Carroll had a 26-20 edge in rebounds, with Lee grabbing a game-high nine ... BG won the junior varsity game, 44-38 in overtime behind Nick Miller's 12 points. Nik Suckinos led Carroll's jayvees with 13 points ... Huskies close their regular season Friday with a game at Hollidaysburg, then meet Bishop McCort for the LHAC championship Saturday night in an 8 p.m. tipoff at Richland High School ... BG hosts cross-town rival Altoona Wednesday night.
BISHOP CARROLL (64): Martinazzi 5 3-4 15, Lee 10 4-8 24, Maruca 3 0-0 6, Lucas 5 1-1 15, Swatsworth 2 0-0 4, Suckinos 0 0-0 0, Woo 0 0-0 0, Burk 0 0-0 0. Totals - 28 8-13 64.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (61): Rickens 7 2-2 19, Fulare 2 7-9 11, McCloskey 5 1-3 13, Chadbourn 5 2-3 13, Wolf 0 0-0 0, Little 1 0-0 2, Kitt 0 0-0 0, Gormley 1 0-0 3, Fiore 0 0-0 0, Kasun 0 0-0 0. Totals - 21 12-17 61.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop Carroll17 13 19 15 - 64
Bishop Guilfoyle11 18 14 18 - 61
3-point goals: Bishop Guilfoyle 7 (Rickens 3, McCloskey 2, Chadbourn, Gormley).
Records: Bishop Carroll (20-0 overall, 10-0 in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference Section I); Bishop Guilfoyle (17-4 overall, 8-2 in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference Section I).
Officials: Clark Adelman, Dave Heim, Jack McDougal.
JV: Bishop Guilfoyle, 44-38 OT. High scorers-Suckinos, BC, 13; Miller, BG, 12.