BB 4A REG. 2: Calm, cool, collected #1 Carmel conquers New Haven, 63-57
March 12, 2013By E. Shawn Aylsworth of Hoosier Authority
By Scott Hunt
National Sports Journalism Center Intern
MARION – There’s an old cliché about the size of a dog in a fight being not what truly matters. When it comes to the 2013 version of “Hoosier Hysteria,” the Class 4A top-ranked Carmel Greyhounds continue to prove that the fight inside a dog is what is most important.
Faced with the task of defending 6’11” New Haven junior center Steve McElvene in the post and 6’8” Notre Dame-bound senior V.J. Beachem on the perimeter March 9 in the 4A Regional 2 championship March 9 at Marion, Carmel once again displayed the mettle and toughness that have become trademarks under third-year coach Scott Heady.
With 6’6” junior forward Zach McRoberts attending to McElvene and 5’9” senior guard Michael Volovic matched up with Beachem most of the night, Carmel took another step toward defending its 4A state championship with a hard-earned 63-57 win over the Bulldogs.
“(New Haven) played with a toughness, and they’ve got all the pieces,” said Heady, no stranger to postseason success back in 1980 when he led Shenandoah to a spot in the four-team state finals before the days of classification. “They’ve got a big guy inside and a tremendous perimeter scorer and player.
“Those other guys are athletes – they drive the ball, and they’re good defensively. “That’s a good team. We beat a good team tonight.”
Beating good teams has become almost commonplace for Carmel (23-2) during its nearly two-year run of success. Heady emphasized throughout the season that the keys for his team’s successes are toughness and consistency – beginning with a tough man-to-man defense.
Volovic, a Butler-bound walk-on, set the tone for the defensive effort against New Haven in his matchup against Beachem, whom Volovic compared to Hamilton Southeastern 6’8” senior forward Zak Irvin, a leading candidate for Indiana Mr. Basketball and a Michigan recruit.
Beachem ended up leading the Bulldogs (18-6) with 17 points but made just 6 of 17 shots, including only 3 of 10 from 3-point range. Volovic, a former AAU teammate of the New Haven star, said he asked his coach for the challenge.
“We’ve played with each other and we know what each other does, so I kind of talked to coach and convinced him to allow me to guard him,” said Volovic, who finished with eight points. “Because I wanted to.
“I just wanted to get into him, chase him through screens, and just get a hand up. He made tough shots, but that’s the kind of player he is.”
McElvene, who had led the Bulldogs with 24 points and 16 rebounds in New Haven’s 65-60 semifinal win over Fort Wayne Northrop (19-8), finished with a dazzling double-double of 15 points and 17 boards against Carmel.
But McRoberts, who battled and scrapped with McElvene for both space and the ball on both ends of the floor, ended up with 16 points himself – 12 coming in the fourth quarter.
The wiry junior’s all-around performance was invaluable to the successful outcome for the Greyhounds as McRoberts collected six rebounds, two assists, three steals, and several deflections on defense in the decisive final period.
“It was unbelievable,” Heady said of McRoberts’ role. “He guarded Beachem sometimes, too. He was good on the perimeter, and he was good inside.
“He blocked out well, he did everything he had to do. He had a lot of deflections, got loose balls, and handled the ball well when he came out when we were trying to run clock.”
Added Volovic: “We made sure that Zach did not front him because a lot of teams front that big guy and that caused a lot of problems with offensive rebounds. Zach did heck of a job guarding him and boxing him out.
“(McElvene) got a couple of easy shots, but we made him work for everything he got.”
Offensively, 6-foot senior guard James Crowley led Carmel with a game-high 24 points. Crowley said the Greyhounds were expecting to see a zone from New Haven, but the Bulldogs played man-to-man and he was able to better handle the ball in open space.
Crowley’s quickness further enabled him to get in the lane and connect on floating jump shots over McElvene & Co. He made 8 of 12 shots from the floor, including a pair of treys, and went 6 of 7 from the charity stripe.
“I like going in the open court and driving down the middle – that’s my style,” said Crowley, whose ’Hounds had faced a zone defense throughout most of their 60-47 semifinal ouster of eighth-ranked Kokomo (22-3, with two of the losses coming to Carmel). “This was more of an opportunity to show my strengths, and tonight I just tried to take advantage of my opportunities.”
Sophomore Ryan Cline was 4 of 5 from 3-point range to finish with 12 points for Carmel, while senior Montae Stevenson added 13 points for New Haven.
The Bulldogs seized momentum early in the fourth quarter of the regional title tilt and led 50-46 on a McElvene putback followed by a trey and deuce by Beachem with just over six minutes to play.
But Carmel maintained its poise and, after a timeout by Heady, McRoberts got a steal and bucket before connecting on four straight free throws to put the Greyhounds back in front, 52-50.
“No matter what the score of a game is, we expect to win games,” Volovic said. “We were down by four and in the timeout we talked about that we’ve got to put together some stops, and we were able to do that and get a couple of quick scores to tie the game back up.”
Stevenson drained a pair of free throws to tie it at 52, but McRoberts and Crowley accounted for the next six points from the line as Carmel took control with a 58-52 lead with 1:47 to play.
The Greyhounds had just one field goal over the final eight minutes but collectively hit 15 of 17 free throws, including 10 of 11 by McRoberts.
With the victory, Carmel advances to face Merrillville (22-3) – the Michigan City Regional champion after upsetting No. 2 Munster 55-52 and throttling South Bend Adams 76-55 – for the 4A northern state finals berth in the second game of the Lafayette Jefferson Semistate on March 16.
The Class A opener at 4 p.m. ET features No. 6 Lafayette Central Catholic (18-8) versus No. 10 Triton (19-5).
“This is a great feeling,” Crowley said of repeating as regional champ. “We don’t like to say repeat; we’d just like to go with our team and do it again.
“We’re not done yet.”
Game 1: New Haven 65, Fort Wayne Northrop 60
Game 2: #1 Carmel 60, #8 Kokomo 47
Championship: #1 Carmel 63, New Haven 57