After playing all but one of their SAC games on the road to this point, the boys basketball team returned to Charger Fieldhouse last Friday for a big time matchup with the South Side Archers.
With a win, the boys would keep their SAC title hopes alive, a loss would almost guarantee they would not be successful in defending their title. The spotlight was on Friday night and the Chargers responded, picking up a 55-42 win in which they locked like a true title contender, a look that has become increasingly clear the last few weeks after a shaky start to the season.
But what exactly is that look?
Well it starts with David Ejah who is basically a walking highlight reel right now and played one of his best games in a Carroll uniform on Friday. Ejah was an absolute monster on the glass bringing in a monster 15 rebounds, a career high, five of which were on the offensive side of the ball. He added five steals which ties his career high that he has reached two other times. Scoring wise Ejah scored 26 points which was, you guessed it, his career high.
I would elaborate more but honestly I think that speaks for itself.
Dan McKeeman made his presence felt from beyond the arch, going three for four, in adding 18 points. Ray Vollmer dished out four assists.
But in a game like this, perhaps the most encouraging sign out of the Chargers was the defense.
Against an Archers team that has regularly been able to top 50 points, the Chargers limited them to 42 points. The best part of that was the fact that not only did the Chargers lock down the Archers down the stretch in the fourth after South Side made a bit of a run at them, they managed to limit the Archers to just two points in the second quarter.
However, in fairness I have to mention something that Carroll fans probably won’t like. 21 of South Side’s 42 points came in the third quarter. For those who don’t really know sports, that is what we like to call ‘not good’. Nonetheless the Chargers still won so we’ll just forget that ever happened and get back to your regularly scheduled programming.
While the boys game was certainly important and a great win for them, the girls game was yet another big game, just in a different way.
Now since there hasn’t been any girls basketball coverage on The Charger Online this year I’ll give a little context here.
The girls team had a ridiculous amount of Seniors last year to the point that this years team had basically zero varsity experience. They started out hot winning six of seven with that loss being a throttling at the hands of Hamilton Southeastern. That streak also included wins against three of the five other teams in the team’s Sectional, the other two, Snider and North Side, are teams the Chargers will play this week for the first time. After that the Chargers went 3-8 and were on a four game losing streak heading in to Friday.
Now full disclosure, prior to January 4th I had watched one girls game all year and that was their SAC game against Homestead where they got beat 70-35 by the then #1 team in 4A. Since the turn of the calendar I have seen all three of their games.
To recap I have seen the girls team lead the aforementioned top ranked team after the first quarter, and believe me that’s an accomplishment for all but maybe one other team in Northeast Indiana, lose a very close game to Dwenger, and lose an absolute heart breaker against Luers in double overtime, three teams that are 1,3, and 4 in the SAC.
So coming in to the South Side game the girls were 2-4 in the conference and had technically been eliminated from the conference race for a couple weeks (every team is eliminated in the conference race from week one because they all have to play Homestead who has yet to lose an SAC regular season game since joining the conference). South Side was 6-1 and is widely regarded as one of the top girls teams in the area. It would have been easy for the girls to come out flat and get rolled.
But that wasn’t at all what happened.
After South Side opened the scoring the Chargers scored nine straight points to open up a lead they would never relinquish in a 65-51 statement win.
Was this a surprise?
The margin of victory was but the overall result?
Probably to many but I don’t think it should have been.
I watched this team run with the best team in the state before the Spartans depth became too much to handle.
I watched them go neck and neck with Dwenger in a game they could have won had they done a better job holding onto the ball.
I watched them lose in double overtime in a game they were leading before Emily Parrett fouled out with a game high 22 points.
And on Friday night I watched them take it to one of the best teams in Fort Wayne for four full quarters and do it without Parrett or their other go to, Olivia Hoeppner, leading on the scoreboard.
That duty was given to Audrey Freeland who was a force to be reckoned with down low, one that the Archers didn’t have much of an answer for.
I can’t say I didn’t see the potential for this one. This team has only gotten better over the course of the season as they get more experience playing at the varsity level.
And this team is still not as good as its going to get.
The Chargers have just three Seniors, none of whom are starters and only one of which gets much playing time.
They will only keep getting better and they have not only this year, but all next year to build chemistry as they won’t have to deal with much roster turnover like a lot of teams in the city do.
So now the girls turn their attention to preparing for sectionals with their last two regular season games coming this week.
The boys schedule is about to get extremely strong with games against some of the areas top teams in Snider, Northrop, and Homestead. The Chargers will also get a visit from #2 Carmel on February 9th.
So what I’m really getting at here is one big question.
Is it a good time to be a Carroll basketball fan?
I certainly think so.