Carlynton overcomes foul trouble, beats Charleroi in overtime

Friday, February 14, 2020 | 11:16 PM

Carlynton coach Mike Kozy wrote the word “team” on the board prior to Friday’s WPIAL Class AAA first-round game against Charleroi. He knew it was going to take a team effort if his Cougars wanted to advance.

With two of his top players in foul trouble, the rest of the Cougars held it down as Carlynton forced overtime and finished off a 66-60 win over No. 7 Charleroi at Peters Township.

“There really wasn’t a turning point, but I wrote that word on the board, emphasizing that we needed everyone to do their job. At the end of the day, that’s what we did,” Kozy said.

Carlynton (16-7) finished 11 of 16 from the free-throw line in overtime, and Chauncie Mickens made the only field goal of the extra frame.

“We got the first point. They came down and didn’t score, then we added two more points,” Kozy said. “That started to put the pressure on them a little bit.”

Carlynton opened overtime with an 8-0 run and withstood a couple of late 3-pointers from Charleroi to hold on.

“I thought we had them there in the fourth. We made a couple of costly mistakes and since we don’t sub much, I thought our kids were dead,” Charleroi coach Bill Wiltz said.

Charleroi kept possession for the final minute of regulation, but sound defense forced a turnover with 1 second to go to force overtime with the score tied at 53.

“We wanted to get the handoff to (Joey) Caruso and get him going to the basket,” Wiltz said. “But they defended it well, and Joey dribbled it off his foot. You can’t fault the kid for that. In the overtime, we missed a couple shots and I think we committed about seven fouls. It put a lot of pressure on us.”

Caruso did his part, finishing with a game-high 29 points.

Charleroi had Carlynton on the ropes early in the second half, starting the third with a 12-1 run to jump out to a 39-30 lead behind 3-pointer from Zach Usher and Will Wagner. Wagner (11) and Usher (10) combined for 21 points for Charleroi (16-7).

Things looked bleak for Carlynton as Mickens picked up his fourth foul in the third.

Still, Carlynton chipped away, cutting the lead to 39-36 and holding Charleroi scoreless for nearly three minutes.

With Charleroi leading by six, DeQuay Canton drained a 3-pointer from the top of the circle to make it 42-39 heading into the fourth.

“We had a few games that we were in a similar situations. We were able to draw a lot of experience from those games,” Kozy said. “There was no panic. There wasn’t disbelief. We knew we could come back.”

Carlynton eventually tied the score at 49 with four minutes to go in the fourth, but Caruso hit a pair of free throws with 3:27 to go.

Mickens and Mark Phillips added a pair of baskets within a minute to give SA a 53-51 lead with 2:29 to go.

Legend Davis scored the final field goal of regulation on a pull-up jumper to tie the score with 1:28 left.

Phillips finished with a team-high 18 for Carlynton. Mickens and Khalil Kerr each had 12. Canton chipped in 11.

“There’s no better teacher than experience,” Kozy said. “(Canton and Mickens), those two guys are seniors and have such a high basketball IQ. We trusted that they’d be able to stay in the game, but the contributions from the rest of the team were critical for us.”

Carlynton advances and will face No. 2 North Catholic on Thursday at a site and time to be determined.

Click to watch an archived broadcast on Trib HSSN.

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