CHARLOTTE – Everything was going right for Carmel Christian, and then it wasn’t.
The No. 3-seeded Cougars appeared to be well on their way to a N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 2A state championship with a nine-point halftime advantage against No. 5-seeded Village Christian before they squandered it and fell 73-61 to the Knights on Saturday, Feb. 25, at Charlotte Latin.
Sophomore guard Marten Maide, who finished with a game-high 21 points, had the hot hand in the first half. He nailed five of Carmel Christian’s seven three-point shots before the break. However, Village Christian adjusted its defense and denied Maide open looks in the second half. Sophomore wing Donovan Gregory added 18 points, but he and Maide didn’t get much help on the offensive end.
The first half was about as well as Carmel Christian had played all year on both ends of the court. The Cougars shared the ball and defended. Unfortunately for Carmel Christian, Village Christian took control of the game and forced the Cougars to play its style of basketball.
Village Christian was quicker to loose balls and forced Carmel Christian to take shots the Cougars weren’t comfortable with. The Knights also limited the Cougars’ possessions and second-chance baskets by making their shots, cleaning up the defensive boards and forcing them into turnovers.
“I think the youth showed up,” Carmel Christian coach Byron Dinkins said. “We just let the momentum shift, and we couldn’t get it back. Credit to Village for taking the momentum.”
“We got a little impatient, a little unraveled, and never settled back down. I’m proud of this team, this group of guys.”
Dinkins added his first season at Carmel Christian was incredible. He didn’t know what to expect from his team going into the season, but believes the Cougars set a strong foundation for what appears to be an exciting future for the program.
Carmel Christian (21-6, 10-1 Southern Piedmont) loose guards Shawn Morrison and Zach Prevette and forward Jon Bryan to graduation, but they return a solid core nucleus in Gregory, Maide, sophomore guard Myles Pierre, junior forward Greg McDonald and freshman guard Ford Cooper.
The Cougars are expected to contend for a state championship next season. They will have the pieces and experience to finish the job. It’s just a matter of doing it.