Stelly helps slow Carr

The Seton Hall-bound point guard and YouTube sensation flopped and repeatedly complained.

The Williamsport track and cross country star in a basketball uniform kept his mouth closed, his focus fixed. In the end, Herb Stelly’s defense of Princeton Day Academy’s Aquille Carr played a major role in Williamsport recording an impressive 73-59 win Wednesday against the national power.

Carr scored a quiet 23 points on 8 of 19 shooting but never went off like he has so many times before. The 5-foot-6 senior is lightning quick, drains near half-court shots in warm-ups like layups, can jump like a 7-footer and handles the ball as well as anyone in the country. He scored his 1,000th career point as a sophomore and has scored 57 points in a game. Stelly, though, welcomed the challenge, contained the phenom and frustrated him at times as Williamsport (20-2) won its 11th straight.

“Herb said it wasn’t going to be easy. He’s a D-I player so he’s going to get his but Herb made every play a difficult play,” Williamsport forward Jahad Thomas said. “I’m thankful for Herb. Without him we wouldn’t have had this game.”

Stelly played one of his best games against his toughest opponent, yet. The senior has been a defensive stopper the last two seasons, helping Williamsport capture a district championship and win 38 games. He has had better games in terms of keeping players’ scoring totals low but considering who he was guarding, this might have been his masterpiece.

Carr made only 2 of 10 first-half shots and four of his points came off steals. He did damage from outside a few times and made some things happen by attacking the paint, but Stelly stuck with him almost all night. Brice Harris and Isaiah Washington spelled Stelly and also were effective but it was Stelly who seemed to frustrate Carr the most.

A district runner-up in the 800-meter run last spring, Stelly never tired, consistently stayed in front of Carr and kept him from controlling the game. Carr desperately wanted to take over in the fourth quarter when his team was down by seven, but was forced to pass instead of taking a 3-pointer when Stelly matched his every move and went wherever he went.

“Players like that are going to get what they normally get but I wanted to keep his points down and help the team win,” Stelly said. “I just wanted to stay in front of him and make him go side to side.”

Carr grew more frustrated and his complaining to the officials increased as the deficit grew larger. All the while, Stelly just kept doing his job. In the end doing that job so effectively helped Williamsport hold Princeton Day to its third-lowest scoring total this season.

In the end, Stelly celebrated with his teammates, while Carr received a last-second technical for throwing the basketball in frustration.

“I knew everybody was going to hype up Aquille Carr. The thing is he’s 5-6 and we weren’t just going to let him dominate us,” Williamsport center Chris Kinley said. “Herb did a great job shutting him down and wasn’t afraid to get out there and play defense.”

Stelly played some outstanding offense, too. The two-year starter scored seven points and dealt six assists. More importantly, he brilliantly ran the offense and was a big reason Williamsport made 51 percent of its shots.

It was the fourth quarter when Stelly really took control. He scored five points during that time, showed no fear attacking the basket and helped Williamsport end the game on a 12-1 run, scoring on a critical putback and feeding Thomas for a game-clinching layup. Earlier in the game, he had three straight assists as Williamsport opened a 13-point second-quarter lead.

“Herb did an excellent job of trying to find the open guy and looked to drive when he had his driving opportunities. He just did a good job of running the offense and making sure guys were where they needed to be,” Williamsport coach Allen Taylor said. “The most important thing was to get the ball up the floor and initiate the offense. A lot of times that’s overlooked and people don’t understand how important it us to get the ball up the floor and handle the pressure and initiate the offense and then guard the other team’s top gun. He did an excellent job of controlling the tempo and managing the game.”

Stelly did an even better job controlling his emotions, schooling the Division I recruit in that department.