WINFIELD — South Carroll showed improvement in its second boys basketball game of the season, said longtime coach Jim Carnes.
Marriotts Ridge proved too tough for the Cavaliers to overcome, however, Tuesday night in a 69-47 setback. But Carnes and his players understand the Cavs' jelling will take a little time.
“We lost four starters from last year, so we’re just trying to mesh together as a team,” said SC guard Dylan Graham, none of nine seniors on this season’s roster. “We did summer and fall stuff, but nothing is like a real game. I guess it’s just meshing together, but I think we’ll figure it out.”
Graham led the Cavaliers (0-2) with 15 points, and fellow senior guard Carson Scott added 12. But Carnes, who is in his 30th season as South Carroll’s coach, said Tuesday’s opponent may wind up being the toughest his squad will see in 2018-19.
The Cavaliers’ strides don’t have too much to do with their foes, though. Carnes agreed with Graham’s assessment about coming together — graduating a Times first-team all-county guard in Cody Parks, along with other key contributors from last season such as Josh Kaye, Matthew Gamble, and Collin Pavlik, took a toll.
Carnes said South Carroll played much better than it did last Friday in the season opener against Catoctin, a 70-55 loss. On Tuesday, the Cavaliers trimmed Marriotts Ridge’s lead to 12 points midway through the third quarter before struggling for the rest of the frame.
They committed six turnovers in their final eight possessions, and the Mustangs established a 52-34 lead after three. Cameron Heard was tough to stop for the visitors — the senior guard, and one of Howard County’s top scorers, poured in 28 points and sank five 3-pointers.
Heard converted a three-point play midway through the fourth quarter that gave the Mustangs a 64-43 edge.
Marriotts Ridge won its opener thanks to a big night from Heard and 13 points from Brandon Held, another senior guard.
South Carroll lost its leading scorer and rebounder from last season when Parks (12.8 points per game) and Kaye (5.8 rebounds per game) both graduated, but Graham averaged 12.1 points and led Carroll County in free-throw percentage at 81 percent.
Graham and Carter Chesney shared most of the ball-handling duties Tuesday, with a focus on motion when SC has the ball, and tried to penetrate Marriotts Ridge’s defense and get open looks for Luke Anderson and Andrew Warehime when the forwards were down low.
“We ran the offense better tonight,” Carnes said. “We were more aggressive tonight. We’ve got to get a little bit better and do a better job there. We’re young — we’re not young [grade]-wise, but playing time-wise we’re inexperienced. We’ll get better.”
South Carroll has a pair of home games coming up, Fallston on Thursday and county foe Winters Mill on Dec. 18, before heading to reigning Carroll County Athletic League champ Liberty on Dec. 20. That’s two weeks worth of games for Graham and his teammates to use as a barometer.
“A lot of people either weren’t playing varsity [last year] or didn’t get enough minutes on varsity, so it’s my job in practice and everything to get everyone [going],” Graham said. “I definitely have seen very good things from a lot of different people. It’s just a matter of getting used to it.”
Marriotts Ridge (69): Amari Little 2, Robinson Davis 2, Josh Olsufka 4, Brandon Held 13, Ryan Lee 7, Cameron Heard 28, Cameron Brown 6, John Miller 7.
South Carroll (47): Carson Scott 13, Carter Chesney 4, Dylan Graham 15, Luke Anderson 7, Andrew Warehime 3, Mason Gavin 3, Colin Reno 2.
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Halftime: MR, 37-22.