WINFIELD — South Carroll defeated Winters Mill twice during the regular season, and the Cavaliers did so despite WM’s Chandler Gentzel getting his share of points in each contest.
The junior guard scored nearly half of the Falcons’ total in their December meeting with the Cavaliers, and went for double-digits when the county rivals met again in late January. So when the Cavs hosted Winters Mill on Friday in a Class 2A West Section 1 quarterfinal, faced with the challenge of competing against the county’s leading scorer, they devised a slightly different defensive game plan.
South Carroll’s extended 2-3 zone made things tricky for Gentzel and the Falcons, who couldn’t keep up in the early going as the Cavaliers cruised to a 54-34 victory.
Dylan Graham, SC’s junior guard, led the way with 19 points, and helped the Cavs (9-14) start the game on a 14-0 run to set the tone. The home team led 15-4 after the first quarter, and 23-12 at halftime even though it struggled on offense in the second quarter.
The defense stayed strong enough throughout, however, to survive and advance. Graham said locking down on Gentzel, who averaged 20 points per game this season, was certainly the key.
“I think the way we went about it was a lot smarter,” Graham said. “We tried to [play] a lot of man [defense] the first time, and they just throw screens at you and make you communicate a lot. They do a good job of getting him open. But by putting in that 2-3 and stretching it out, he can’t really dictate where he’s going to go.”
Gentzel had 25 points and 11 rebounds against South Carroll on Jan. 22, and scored 17 against the Cavs when they played Dec. 18. He finished with five points Friday, and more often than not had to settle for long-range shots coming off those high screens.
The Falcons (3-20) struggled from behind the 3-point line, and finished 3-for-20.
Meanwhile, South Carroll connected on four 3-pointers and attacked the basket by penetrating Winters Mill’s defense early on. Andrew Warehime, a senior forward, scored 10 points, and fellow senior Mason Gavin added eight.
Warehime and Gavin combined for nine points in the third quarter, and when Gavin snagged a steal near midcourt in the final seconds and ended the frame with a layup, South Carroll led 40-24.
Winters Mill started the quarter strong and trimmed a 16-point deficit to 10, but couldn’t get any closer. Alan Jean Joseph, a sophomore, had a team-high 10 points for the Falcons, all in the second half, and junior forward John Bodden netted nine.
WM coach Devon Lesniak had two seniors on this year’s roster, and said he’s more concerned with his players learning from this winter’s struggles rather than the wins and losses.
“I’m really looking forward to the young group of guys that we have in the program that bring a good attitude, good coach-ability,” Lesniak said. “We’ll come into practice, and those are the guys that you want to be around.”
South Carroll moves on to face another county foe in Century, the co-Carroll County Athletic League champions, on Monday night at 6:30. The Knights have won 11 games in a row, and downed the Cavaliers 63-49 on Feb. 22 after beating them by 20 in early January.
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Cavs coach Jim Carnes and his players know they’re likely up against it for their second playoff game.
“It’s a completely different ballgame — Century has got five guys who shoot like [Gentzel] does,” Carnes said. “They can shoot it from everywhere. They stretch you out, they’re athletic, and they can get to the basket.”
Carnes said the Cavaliers have played well of late, giving Frederick a fight on the road a few weeks ago and doing the same against Linganore at home Feb. 21. Century beat SC by 14 the next night, but Carnes said the Cavs performed well for three quarters in that one.
“You’ve got to play a perfect game to beat a team like that,” Carnes said. “They’re just so talented.”
Winters Mill (34): Chandler Gentzel 5, Alan Jean Joseph 10, Avery Serafin 2, Logan Davidson 1, John Bodden 9, Josh Popielski 6, Cam Vogel 1.
South Carroll (54): Carson Scott 6, Evan Hock 2, Dylan Graham 19, Ryan Gallagher 4, JJ Blazek 2, Adam McCarty 2, Jake Anderson 1, Andrew Warehime 10, Mason Gavin 8.
Halftime: SC, 23-12.