Carpenter, Crusaders Deck Frontier

By Stephen Sports
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Saint Joseph senior Michael Carpenter did so much on the offensive end of the floor on Tuesday

Michael Carpenter  See more photos here.

night that you almost could have missed everything he did on defense.

Frontier certainly missed the contribution of the player he shut down.

Carpenter scored 24 points to lead the Crusaders to a 65-43 win over Frontier in the first round of the Division 3 Western Massachusetts tournament at the Boys and Girls Club.

Just as importantly, Carpenter held Paul Decker to nine points. In fact, Decker who averaged 15 points per game coming in, had just two points until he knocked down a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to make it 50-34 ... with Carpenter enjoying a well-deserved breather on the bench.

"I had a very good scouting report, and we knew the Decker kid is a very good shooter," St. Joe's head coach Paul Brindle said. "If you leave him alone, he's going to make shots. Carpenter, the last several years, has been the best defender, maybe, in Western Mass when he's on his game.

"Tonight, he was on his game.

"It was very difficult for [Decker] to get wide open looks or even to get space and breathe. And even great shooters, if you're worked that hard all game long, at some point it gets to you. Carp did exactly what we asked him to do."

St. Joe advances to Thursday night's quarterfinal at third-seeded Mount Greylock (18-3), which defeated the Crusaders by scores of 64-61 and 63-58 in the regular season.

Carpenter said that the defending Western Mass. champs need to step up their defense in order to knock off the Mounties this time around.

"If our defense is there, if we play a good zone defense, and if our shots are falling, we're definitely going to win," Carpenter said.

"I didn't play too well [against Greylock]. Lavante [Wiggins] struggled down low guarding against [Tyler] Picard. [Tyrell] Thomas didn't have a good game. If we shut him down again, hopefully we can win."

Carpenter played all the shutdown defense the Crusaders needed on Tuesday night.

But the Red Hawks (11-10) still jumped out to an early 10-4 lead thanks to crisp passing that set up some early looks in the post.

St. Joe's (12-8) turned the tide with a variety of full-court presses that allowed the Crusaders to take a 14-13 lead after one quarter when Taverick "Tank" Roberson fed Carpenter for a 3-pointer late in the quarter.

The second quarter belonged to Wiggins.

The Crusaders' center scored 11 of his 17 points in the period and set up Jon Bianchi for a triple with a pass out of the post. Thanks largely to Wiggins, St. Joe opened up a 10-point lead at halftime.

"We have been relying a lot on our perimeter shooting," Brindle said. "In any game, those shots aren't going to fall. We're not a big team, but Lavante is a big body, and we need to do a better job getting him the ball.

"So we've been emphasizing in practice the last several weeks: You've really got to find Lavante. Lavante's even got to touch the ball. Even he kicks it back out, we've got to try to get the ball inside out."

Another pass out of the post from Wiggins -- this time to Carpenter -- set up a 3-pointer to open the third quarter, and the Crusaders never looked back.

Carpenter scored 16 of his 24 in the second half. Roberson and Wiggins backed him up with 17 points apiece, and Carpenter tied for the game-high in rebounds with eight.

Tim Hoar led Frontier with 10 points, and Quinn Hickey had eight boards.

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