Even without some of its standout players from last year’s conference champions, Carrboro proved its still a contender for another crown with a strong performance last week at East Chapel Hill.
Led by 27 points from Matt MacKinnon, 9 of those coming on 3-pointers, Carrboro (2-1) overcame a shaky first 4 minutes and ended up winning easily, 72-51, at Wildcat Gym.
It was the second win in three years by 2A Carrboro at 4A East Chapel Hill, which still leads the series 6-2. And it was by far the biggest margin at Wildcat Gym for Carrboro, which edged East 54-51 in 2011.
And the Jaguars did it without guard Trai Sharp or wing Marlin Johnson, two lettermen from 2012 who were injured this fall during football season. Carrboro was already missing all-conference point guard McLean Phipps, Alex McVeigh, Peter Rathmell and Malik Carrngton off last year’s team that went 16-0 in the Big-12 Conference season.
“This is the sort of game that makes a coach happy, real happy,” Carrboro head coach John Alcox said. “A lot of guys came in and contributed, and that’s what you want to see.”
MacKinnon dominated the scoring, thanks in part to his 3-for-5 shooting on 3-pointers. But four other Jaguars added at least eight points: Jack Nanney with 13, Matt Pruitt and Max Mahadevan with 9 apiece, and James Scott with 8.
Akavious Parks led East Chapel Hill (0-2) with 18 points, while Tykeem Woodward and Lawyer Dallas each had 9 and Robert Wilson chipped in 8 points.
“We’re still figuring out how to play as a team,” East coach Ray Hartsfield said. “Right now, we’re doing a lot of ‘dribble, dribble, dribble.’ I’ve got the ball and I’m going to make something happen by myself.’ There’s no continuity in an attack like that.”
Like East, Carrboro also had a little trouble finding its game at the start of the season.
“We played well enough at Cedar Ridge to win most games, but to be successful, you’ve got to rebound,” Alcox said.
The Jaguars were out-rebounded badly at Cedar Ridge and lost 76-62 on Nov. 22. The Red Wolves’ 6-5 freshman Logan Vosburg had a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds. The 6-3 Kyle Jones had 9 points and 10 rebounds. Neil Higgins killed Carrboro along the perimeter with 4-for-5 shooting on 3-pointers and led all scorers with 26 points.
Carrboro learned from that experience and won 74-65 last Monday against Corinth Holders. Pruitt and Scott scored 18 each in that win.
One night later at East Chapel Hill, the Jaguars put everything together with excellent defense, rebounding and scoring from both outside the arc and inside the paint. The Jaguars took a 37-20 edge in rebounds, with Scott being especially effective on second-chance shots. They scored 22 points off shots in the paint and were 8-for-12 on 3-point attempts.
East led 6-0 early, but Carrboro never trailed again after it closed the first half with a 21-4 run. Carrboro got its first lead, at 16-14, on a 3-pointer by Martin Alcox, and Mahadevan later hit 3-pointers 50 seconds apart to make it a 23-16 lead. The Jaguars also got 12 points in the paint during the run, 9 directly off of offensive rebounds.
“Max hit some huge 3-pointers, and Jackson Overbeck was good for us defensively in there,” John Alcox said.
The teams repeated that pattern in the second half. East scored the first seven points after halftime to cut the margin to 31-28. Carrboro then finished strong hitting four of five 3-point tries and scoring 14 points off a series of layups.
Carrboro returns to action Tuesday with boys’ and girls’ games against Cedar Ridge. Friday, Carrboro will host Chapel Hill.
East, which appeared in a holiday tournament this weekend in Knightdale, next plays at Orange on Tuesday, then Friday at Northwood