Up to now, Carver’s junior varsity basketball team has experienced more negatives than positives. Yet, there is cause for optimism.
There are still six weeks remaining in the season, which gives the Yellowjackets sufficient time to stage a season-saving comeback. In late December, Carver (now 5-10) showed flashes of promise in reaching the finals of the Bank of the Carolinas Holiday JV Tournament in Asheboro. The Jackets beat Eastern Randolph and Union Pines in the qualifying rounds, and then lost to Randleman (66-61) in the championship game.
Carver’s backcourt tandem of William Dean and Jay O’Banner led the way and both earned all-tournament honors. In the title game, Dean delivered an MVP-type performance with 28 points.
“We’re not there yet, but things look very promising,” said Coach Mike Curry. “We’re coming around at both ends of the floor. This team is maturing. The big difference now is that nobody cares who scores the most points. We’re starting to play together as one unit.”
Carver flourishes in an up-tempo game. The Jackets’ abundance of quickness and athleticism is put on full display when they employ their full-court traps and presses. The defensive pressure forces turnovers, which Carver converts into points off the fast break.
Even though the Jackets played well in Asheboro, their high level of play hasn’t carried over to the early weeks of January. Carver started 2013 with three straight losses. It doesn’t help matters that they no longer have Dean, who was moved up to the varsity team on Jan. 7. Dean, a freshman shooting guard who averaged a team-high 17.2 points a game, proved to be the Jackets best jayvee player during the first half of the season.
Dean’s absence was evident in Carver’s 53-40 loss to Trinity Wheatmore last week.
The Jackets started slowly and trailed by double digits for most of the game. Carver rallied in the fourth quarter and trimmed the deficit 43-36 with four minutes left to play in the game. In the end, it wasn’t enough and the Jackets lost by double-digits.
Terrion Cherry, who used to come off the bench as Carver’s sixth man, replaced Dean in the starting lineup and contributed 12 points and five rebounds. O’Banner finished with 10 points and six assists and post player Sean Smith added eight points and 10 rebounds.
“It took everybody a while to get accustomed to playing without Dean,” said Curry. “It’s important that we play hard and play smart from the very start of the game. We can’t wait until the fourth quarter to play the way we’re capable of playing. Teams can no longer expect a win when they play us. They’re going to have to earn it. As long as we come out and play the Carver way, we’ll be all right.”