Sullivan boys cruise to win vs. Lourdes
LAPORTE — Sam Carpenter and Justin Metzger often arrive before any other students and take extra shooting practice.
The senior captains are tone-setters when nobody is watching, setting a hard-working example. Tuesday night, they were tone-setters again, this time as seemingly the entire Sullivan County community packed into the Griffins’ gym.
Carpenter and Metzger made their final home games memorable ones, combining for 41 points and helping Sullivan County dethrone two-time defending champion Lourdes, 71-49, in the District 4 Class A quarterfinals. Carpenter and Metzger each started strong and never let up, helping Sullivan County (18-5) lead from start to finish while clinching an eighth district semifinal and state tournament appearance in 10 years.
“It was our last home game so we wanted to go out with a bang,” Metzger said after scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. “Lourdes is a tough team. They were desperate to get this win so we wanted to come out and get after them early.”
“Us being captains, we really had to lead out there,” Carpenter said following his 21-point, seven-rebound performance. “Knowing it was our last home game we just wanted to play hard and provide energy.”
They did that effectively and the energy flowed so freely throughout the Griffin roster that Thomas Edison would have blushed. Four players scored at least nine points, Jalen Thomas delivered 13 points and six assists, and Sullivan County buried Lourdes in the third quarter when it closed on a 13-0 run which put it up 25.
It was an outstanding team performance, but it was Metzger and Carpenter providing the spark. Metzger had a double-double by late in the third quarter and Carpenter epitomized the team’s relentless attitude when he sprinted in from behind, grabbed an offensive rebound in mid-air and scored off it before touching the ground.
“The team kind of needed their captains tonight to get things started for us and once that happened we showed the balance,” Sullivan County coach Glenn Vaughan said. “We moved the ball really well, we didn’t have a lot of turnovers, we shared the ball and got good looks. They (the captains) were big.”
Sullivan County built a 40-23 halftime lead and made 22 of 42 shots through three quarters. Lourdes made a brief run in the third quarter, closing within 44-32, but five Griffins scored in the third and started putting the game away.
Jesse Williams scored nine points and pulled down seven rebounds and the Griffins hit seven 3-pointers, displaying a strong inside-outside game. Vaughan also effectively used an eight-man rotation throughout the first half on a sultry night inside a gym which felt like a sauna, wearing down the Raiders by the third quarter.
“We’re versatile. One night Jalen can go off, one night Jesse, one night Justin, one night me and so on,” Carpenter said. “That makes us hard to guard because there’s so many guys who can contribute.”
“In that environment with as hot as the gym was in last part of third quarter we still had really good energy and they got tired for a little bit,” Vaughan said. “That was a big part of the run we went on.”
As well as Sullivan County played, the biggest ovation came in the final seconds. Hard-working sophomore Ryan Smith drained a free throw with 6.2 seconds remaining and both his teammates and students swarmed him as the final buzzer sounded, a tribute to a player who defines what this program represents.
“Ryan is just one of those guys who doesn’t get a lot of playing time but he works his butt off,” Metzger said. “He loves his game and it shows.”
Sullivan County 71,
Hunter Reed 9 1-3 19, Tyler Novak 6 2-2 15, Nick deManicor 3 1-2 8, Casen Sandri 0 1-2 1, Chris Feudale 1 0-0 2, Max Reiprish 1 0-0 2. Totals 21 5-11 49.
Sam Carpenter 7 5-7 21, Justin Metzger 9 0-0 20, Jalen Thomas 5 0-0 13, Jesse Williams 3 3-4 9, Alex Schweitzer 1 0-1 2, Omar Rubio 1 0-0 3, Riley King 1 0-0 2, Ryan Smith 0 1-2 1. Totals 22 10-13 71.
Lourdes 9 14 9 17-49
Sullivan 17 23 17 14-71
3-point goals: Lourdes 2 (Novak 1, deManicor 1), Sullivan 7 (Thomas 3, Metzger 2, Carpenter 1, Rubio 1).
Records: Sullivan (18-5), Lourdes (4-19).