This was a new-look Carver team from the one that had compiled a 2-18 record heading into yesterday's Class 3A East region quarterfinal playoff game at Howard High.
Freshman Miguel Wilson (23 points) and sophomore point guard Gabriel Brooks (10 points) each moved up from the junior varsity to play their first varsity game, as the Bears knocked off Howard, 76-54.
"Brooks was really the key for us at point guard because we haven't had anyone to handle the ball well all season," Carver coach Druce Jackson said. "We weren't able to break a press before. We didn't bring them up sooner because we thought the JV had a chance to win a championship."
Wilson had led the junior varsity to a 14-4 record with a 24-point scoring average. He wasn't intimidated about taking the step up.
"I wasn't nervous. I thought we'd win," Wilson said. "Everyone just started giving me the ball."
Although the two new players made a decisive difference, Jackson thinks that defense was the overall deciding factor.
"Changing defenses won it for us," Jackson said. "I had scouted them against Glenelg and I thought we could pressure the ball. We were able to take the ball away."
Carver stole the ball nearly at will in the third quarter when Howard (3-18) made 11 of its 27 turnovers. The Bears went from a six-point lead to a 15-point lead.
The Bears switched off among 1-2-2 and 2-3 zones, half-court full-court presses and man-for-man.
Jackson had predicted an impressive victory for Carver before the game began.
That prediction appeared in trouble when Howard led 17-9 after one quarter. The Lions hit eight of 12 shots from the field, and were led by Jabraille Jackson's eight points. Jackson scored just one more point the rest of the game, however.
Howard also out-rebounded Carver 8-5 that quarter, something the Lions have had trouble doing all season.
In the second quarter, Carver took control of the boards, out-rebounding Howard, 14-8. That enabled the Bears to work their fast break and outscore Howard, 30-16, taking a 39-33 halftime lead.
Wilson scored 13 points in the second quarter, including two three-point shots.
Carver took advantage of Howard's 1-3-1 zone by scoring on several backdoor layups.
"JR [Porter] got in early foul trouble and we had to pull him off, and that hurt us on the boards," Howard coach Kevin Broadus said. Porter finished with 12 rebounds and eight points.
Broadus thought it was Nathaniel Wingo who played the key role for Carver. Wingo finished with 16 points.
"He made them go," Broadus said. "He had a lot of assists."
* Hammond 53, Lackey 51: Jerry Oliver's two free throws with 24 seconds remaining lifted the Bears (16-8) past the visiting Chargers in a Class 2A South game.
* Catonsville 60, Overlea 56: Victor Gray scored 16, as visiting Catonsville rallied from a 12-point deficit in the third quarter to defeat Overlea in a Class 2A North game.