Carlynton boys basketball program takes giant step forward

Thursday, February 13, 2020 | 5:28 PM

Carlynton boys basketball coach Mike Kozy knew he had something special this season.

The Cougars entered the season with experience on their side with a solid core of seniors and returning lettermen. The team made sure to make the most of the opportunity, finishing with a winning record for only the second time in the past decade.

“I’m very pleased and thought the boys did a great job,” Kozy said. “Experience was one of our strengths. We have a group of seniors who have played together since the fourth grade. It’s a special group.”

Carlynton finished the regular season with a 14-8 overall record and an 8-4 record in Section 2-3A play. It’s a dramatic improvement from last season, when the team went 6-16 and 1-11 in the section.

The 14 wins are the most by a Cougars squad since the team won 13 games in 2010-11.

A reason for the Cougars’ success this season is an increase in scoring. Carlynton averaged 61.7 points per game — up from a 51.6 average from a year ago.

“We have more of an up-tempo approach to the game this season,” Kozy said. “The boys have improved a lot from last season.”

Chauncie Mickens has been a catalyst for the team’s success. The senior guard has been explosive on offense, averaging more than 20 points per game. Mickens scored a season-high 33 points in a win over Perry on Dec. 28.

In a Jan. 31 game against North Catholic, Mickens became only the seventh Carlynton player to eclipse 1,000 career points.

“I give him credit for working so hard,” Kozy said. “He put in work with one of our assistants in the offseason. He put in the work to be a good player.”

DeQuay Canton has also had a solid senior season, averaging more than 11 points per game. While his scoring has been a benefit, Canton’s role as the team’s point guard has been crucial.

“He’s our floor leader,” Kozy said. “He is a state qualifier in track. With that kind of speed, it helps set the tempo in games, especially on offense.”

Senior Mark Phillips rounds out the team’s trio of starting senior guards. Phillips compliments Canton and Mickens by being the team’s spot-up shooter.

Khalil Kerr has been a solid contributor as well. The sophomore scored 12 against South Allegheny and 10 against North Catholic over the final stretch of the season.

Besides the team’s solid guard play, a pair of forwards have boosted the team’s fortunes. Senior Morgan Ault brings size with his 6-foot-4 frame. Pierce Greiner, a 6-2 sophomore, has helped out with his ability to battle in the paint.

“Pierce started most of the season for us at center,” Kozy said. “It’s a luxury to have them playing well together.”

For the Cougars, a winning season has led to increased confidence on the court. The team’s poise has shown in tight games throughout the season. Carlynton won six games decided by a 3-pointer or less.

The team planned to carry its swagger into the postseason. The Cougars were paired up with Charleroi in a Class 3A first-round matchup.

“There is no doubt the team is playing with confidence,” Kozy said. “We won a bunch of games. But we won some close games. Winning those games really helped when we step onto the court and developed our expectations this season. It’s been a huge part of our success.”


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