'Carp,' Crusaders Crush 'Cats

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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PITTSFIELD -- A six-point half-time lead was nice and all, but the St. Joseph Central High School boys basketball team knows there is a big difference between a two-possession cushion and a double-digit bulge.

So midway through the third quarter, the Crusaders kicked into high gear, went on an 11-0 run and cruised to a 72-47 win over Lee on Friday at the Boys and Girls Club.

"I think the guys were motivated to take this game from a six-point lead to double digits," St. Joe coach Paul Brindle said. "Because a lot of times, mentally, if you can a team down double digits and they don't make a couple of shots, the game then can be over, in reality.

"We do a very good job at that. Once we get a double-digit lead, we can continue to add to that."

The Crusaders took their first 10-point lead of the night when Taverick "Tank" Roberson stole the ball and scored in transition to pick up two of his team-high 21 and make it a 47-37 game. Three minutes later, he closed the run with a behind-the-back pass to set up Lavante Wiggins in the post to make it 53-37 with a minute left in the third.

"In the third quarter, we were saying to ourselves, and we said it at half-time, 'We're not letting this team keep it a close game,' " Brindle said. "You've got to fight. You've got to scrap. They're a well-coached team, and they're not going to quit, so you can't quit. You have to match their intensity.

"And I think we did it the entire second half, which is a good sign."

Lee's Jake LePrevost earned game-high honors with 22 points. But Roberson added six assists (five in the second half) and got help from Michael Carpenter with 17 points and 14 rebounds.

In fact, Roberson credited Carpenter's rebounding with making the biggest difference in the second half.

"In the first half, we weren't getting rebounds," Roberson said. "(Lee's) Heamon Williams was doing a really nice job grabbing every rebound. And 'Carp' came into the second half and said, 'I'm going to grab every board.'

"His rebounding causes our transition. ... They still have really good rebounders. Even in the second half, they still had really good rebounders. But Carp was a man among boys on the boards in the second half. And the transition game opened up, and it opened up the lead."

The Crusaders (5-2) held Lee (4-4) to 17 second-half points after a 36-30 first half. Roberson had two second-half steals, and Jon Bianchi and Matt Begrowicz each had a takeaway to go along with a Carpenter block.

Lee turned over the ball on seven of 10 possessions to start the fourth quarter, ensuring that St. Joseph was never threatened after taking a 56-41 lead through three periods.

Williams scored 21 for Lee, giving him and LePrevost 91 percent of their team's points between the two of them -- nearly all scored in the paint except for a 3-pointer by LePrevost.

Lee coach Dan Korte said he was not bothered that the Wildcats were not able to get untracked from the perimeter. His players were following the team's strategy.

"We got a few looks, and we didn't knock them down," Korte said. "That's not our strength this year, and it wasn't really our game plan. We wanted to try to get to the hole, try to get to the foul line and create some easy baskets as opposed to trying to live from the perimeter.

"That's what we were trying to do. We just didn't get enough of those hoops."

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