Trib HSSN boys basketball player of the week: Week ending March 7
Monday, March 9, 2020 | 10:43 PM
When it comes to the makeup of WPIAL Class 6A boys basketball champion Butler, senior Ethan Morton is Batman and sophomore Devin Carney is Robin, the boy wonder.
However, in the Golden Tornado’s first round PIAA playoff game Saturday against Central Dauphin, Carney had to transform into Superman.
With Morton first locked down by the Rams defense, then hobbled by a second-half ankle injury, Carney took over and scored 39 points to carry the Golden Tornado to a 16th straight victory and the team’s third overtime win in the last four playoff games.
“Devin carried the load really the whole game,” Morton said afterward. “The way they were playing us and playing me, it was apparent I wouldn’t be able to score as much, and then when I rolled my ankle, it was on him.”
As it was for the entire Butler offense, the first half was a struggle for Carney as he was limited to one field goal, one free throw and a 3-pointer as the WPIAL champs trailed 34-26 at the break.
The combination of Carney finding his stroke and taking over the reins of the Butler offense after the Morton injury made for a thrilling second half and beyond.
“When I tried to drive and couldn’t really get any footing, I realized, ‘Devin, you’re going to have to go and I’ll just do whatever I can to clear some boards and get some stops on defense,’” Morton said.
“He was just unbelievable. His poise at the end of the game, taking the offense on his shoulders when he realized I couldn’t go was just awesome. He’s such a great player and can score at will, and that was the kind of game you needed a guy like that.”
Carney connected on three 3-pointers in the third quarter to keep Butler close, then hit two more in the fourth quarter as the Golden Tornado finally started chipping away at a 10-point Central Dauphin lead.
He also was splendid at the free-throw line in the second half and in overtime, connecting on 10 of 12.
After the game, Central Dauphin coach Wayne Fletcher was thrilled with how his team played against Morton but realized they couldn’t control both Morton and Carney.
“Its pick your poison,” he said. “You can’t stop both of those guys. We figured if (Carney) gets 30, we’re going to have to live with it. It’s better than Morton getting 30 and 10 assists. That’s way more damaging.
“As much as (Carney) scored, he had to work hard for a lot of them. We’ll have to take that.”
When told Carney ended up with 39 points, Franklin was incredulous.
“Wow,” he said. “As much as we like to hang our hat on the defensive side of the ball, I’m pretty amazed at those numbers.”
Carney and company will have to continue to shine in the second round. While Morton has said he will play, the Golden Tornado face an Upper St. Clair team that they knocked off in the WPIAL semifinals by five points in overtime.
• Isaac DeGregorio, North Catholic: There was no WPIAL championship hangover for DeGregorio and his North Catholic teammates Saturday. The senior connected for 33 points as the Trojans came out quickly and jumped all over Westmont-Hilltop, winning by 19 points. DeGregorio did most of his damage from behind the arc as he hit on seven 3-pointers.
• Khalil Kerr, Carlynton: A trip to Johnstown to face a future WPIAL school and current District 6 runner-up Ligonier Valley did not slow down a Carlynton team enjoying one of its best seasons in years. Kerr, a sophomore, scored a team-high 21 points as the Cougars held off the Rams by four points to advance and pick up the program’s first PIAA boys basketball victory in 13 years.
• KeVaughn Price, Bishop Canevin: Sometimes a pre-bracket setup the PIAA uses for its basketball playoffs does you no favors. Then there are times when being the fourth seed out of your district pays off handsomely. Bishop Canevin opened up the state playoffs against a 3-20 Commodore Perry team and rolled into the second round thanks to sophomore KeVaughn Price and his game-high 29 points in a one-sided 52-point victory.
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