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Boys basketball: Carroll picking up pressure and pace, paste Southwest in Byron Nelson opener
By Justin Thomas, email@example.com
For many programs, the switch to a new staff would be full of growing pains as both players and coaches try to gain familiarity with each other and their new roles.
But for Southlake Carroll, an abundance of depth has allowed for a smoother transition as the Dragons find their way in head coach Eric McDade's up-tempo system.
Through 18 games, Carroll is out to an 11-7 start, including splitting a pair of District 4-5A games Dec. 18 and 21.
The Dragons roster features multiple varsity returners and overall boasts eight seniors, four juniors and three sophomores.
"We don't have anybody on the varsity roster that we don't have confidence playing," McDade said. "We were very selective in choosing the roster and knew we wanted a roster of 14 or 15 guys and that's what we got. We have a very deep team of hard working and talented kids. They've been very coachable, which helps me a lot being my first year here."
Carroll's large roster also makes play in McDade's system that much easier.
"I've always enjoyed the up-tempo system," he said. "I think it's good for our game and the kids are doing a great job. Since day one, we've asked our kids to go as hard as they can when they are on the court. We have lots of guys that can play for a stretch of time with no drop off. We're looking to maintain that pace at all times and I couldn't be more pleased with our conditioning. Everyone goes out there and does their job. Everyone on the roster can score or contribute."
McDade is also pleased with Carroll's versatility on the court.
"All the guys can do at least one or two things well," he said. "Whether it's shooting, playing defense, rebounding or passing. All the kids bought into the system and know their little niche."
Point guards for Carroll include Daniel Brown, Josh Zabransky, Kirk Mason and Ray Crockett.
"Daniel is starting but we have the luxury of having four guys who can play point," McDade said.
Rounding out guards are Spencer Tietjen, Matt Walker, Levi Osburn, Trevor O'Neil, Sammy Silver, August Swanson and Hunter Summy.
Forwards include Cole Partyka, Cooper Westland and Thomas Gilliatt with Brett Jolly in the post.
"This is a special group of kids," McDade said. "They're athletic, they can shoot and we also have guys that can score inside. And they don't mind getting out there and playing tough defense."
The Dragons are still seeking improvements defensively and on the boards, however.
"You can always get better in those two areas," McDade said. "And that's big because when the shots aren't falling, you can always win games with defense and rebounding."
With loads of depth and the roster developing cohesion, McDade is hopeful the Dragons can qualify for the playoffs.
"Our goal first and foremost is to focus on the process and improve each day," he said. "If we do that, then competing for district and making the playoffs will take care of itself.
"But this is a great district with a lot of great coaches. They're a lot of solid programs and you have to be ready to play each night."
Carroll got a look at one of the contenders in district when they faced off against Richland (No. 18 in the state) on Dec. 18. The Dragons fought hard, but ultimately came up short, 68-67, after being outscored in the fourth quarter, 21-19. Partyka paced Carroll with 12 points, while Brown and Gilliat scored 10 apiece.
On Dec. 21, Carroll moved to .500 in district with an overtime win against Justin Northwest, 68-63. The Dragons outscored the Texans in overtime, 7-2.
"We came with our first district game against Richland and even though we lost by one, we knew we were right there," McDade said. "Then we came back and beat Northwest in overtime. So we're 1-1 and know we're playing well. We want to continue to get better with Keller looming next Friday. We're trying to tune up and get better."
Dragons run Fort Worth Southwest
TROPHY CLUB - From the opening tip Thursday, Carroll's high-pressure defense caused fits for Fort Worth Southwest as the Dragons seized a 27-4 lead after just one quarter Thursday en route to a 106-51 victory in the first round of the Byron Nelson Classic.
Carroll had 14 players score, including 12 each from Jolly and Westland. Eight players scored at least eight points for the Dragons.
It was the second time this season Carroll has cracked the 100-point mark after setting a program record Nov. 13 in a 120-40 season-opening victory against R.L. Turner.
"It's more about the process than it is the scoreboard," McDade said. "The kids played hard and we wanted to keep our tempo going. We're trying to get better and there were some things that happened today that were really, really good."
On Thursday, Carroll scored on its first four possessions on the strength of five offensive rebounds as the Dragons went up, 9-2. The lead would stretch to 22-2 before the Raiders converted their second field goal of the quarter. The Dragons also had six assists in the quarter.
"Everything for us starts on the defensive end," McDade said. "We still have some work to do with our rotations and such, but I liked what I saw today."
Carroll's best offensive frame came in the third when the Dragons outscored the Raiders, 33-10. The run featured a hoop by Gilliatt following a sequence of four offensive rebounds, a tip-in with a foul by Jolly and an and-one off an offensive board by Silver. Summy also chipped in a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc for Carroll as the Dragons knocked down 12 from long-range as a team, including eight different players with 3-point makes.
Carroll continued Friday against host Byron Nelson with the finals slated for Saturday (results not available as of press time).
"Coming off a five-day break for the holiday, we're trying to make sure we get our legs back," McDade said. "These Christmas tournaments serve as a good time to kind of knock some of the rust off and get back in the swing of things. Hopefully we can keep it going [Friday]."
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