Defense was a staple of Bishop Carroll’s impressive run to the Class 5A football championship last month.
It’s serving the Golden Eagles pretty well in the first few games of the basketball season, as well.
Carroll, No. 5 in the 5A coaches rankings, smothered rival Northwest from start to finish, and also shot 63 percent from the field in a 59-33 victory on Tuesday at Carroll.
Junior Eric Scharping scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Carroll (3-0, 3-0 City League). Senior Mike Wilbert added 10 points and set the tone with an alley-oop lob to Connor Evans for a dunk four seconds into the game.
“The thing I’ve seen in this group so far is the willingness to give up a little bit to gain a lot,” said Carroll coach Lonnie Lollar, whose team made 24 of 38 field goals. “There are moments when I just sit back and think these guys have got it close to as figured out as they can for this stage in the season.”
Carroll will enter a showdown with East (No. 2 in 6A) on Friday allowing an average of 31.3 points. After holding North to 24 points and South to 37 in victories on consecutive nights last week, the Eagles continued their early-season dominance by racing to a 22-8 first-quarter lead.
“They can execute,” said Northwest coach Bryan Chadwick, whose team fell to 1-1. “They’re the No. 5 team in the state, so you know they can execute.
“Then there’s the intensity. You know you’re going to have to play every play hard because they’re going to work their tails off.”
Starting with the perfectly executed play off the opening tip, Carroll put on an early clinic. The Eagles made 9 of 11 shots in the first quarter and shot 67 percent in the first half (14 of 21).
Scharping, a 6-foot-5 junior, scored nine points in the third quarter as Carroll continued to have its way.
“Last year, we struggled with our starts,” Lollar said. “This year, it seems like we’re getting more transition baskets. And defensively, we’ve been solid.”
So much so that the game’s final 4½ minutes were played with a running clock after Carroll extended its lead to 30 points. Nine players scored for the Eagles.
Sophomore John Short scored nine points for Northwest, which shot 26 percent.
Carroll, which has allowed 94 points in 12 quarters, turns its attention to an East team that scored 92 in its season-opening victory Tuesday against Southeast.
“I wouldn’t call it a final, but we’ve got a big exam Friday,” Lollar said. “It’s one game, but it’s an exam we’re going to take very seriously and prepare hard for.
“In my opinion, we’re playing the best team in the state of Kansas Friday night.”