If halftime is about making adjustments, Kapaun Mount Carmel coach John Cherne shouldn’t be allowed so much time.
It didn’t necessarily show in the third quarter, as the Crusaders and Bishop Carroll traded big baskets and kept it a close game. It did show in the fourth, as Kapaun opened with 11 straight points to pull ahead and close out a 68-61 victory Friday night, clinching at least a share of the City League title.
The Crusaders can lock up their first outright league title since 1975 with a win Tuesday at East.
“At halftime, we talked about executing and running the offense,” Cherne said. “The last two games, we kind of got caught up taking easy shots, quick shots. So we got them to start running our offense. And picking up our defensive intensity helped a lot.”
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Still trailing by one point after an impressive third quarter that only kept them in the hunt with the equally hot Golden Eagles, Kapaun took the lead on a Thomas Wells layup on the first possession of the fourth.
Two steals by the Crusaders and fastbreak finishes from Mark Hutton and Wells had the hosts on their way to a 55-45 lead less than three minutes later.
“We picked up the intensity a little bit,” said senior Chris Meitzner, who finished with a game-high 19 points. “We pressed them into a little bit of pressure, and we found a way to start hitting shots. Coach got into us a little bit at halftime, and we knew we had to adjust.”
The changes didn’t take hold right away, as Carroll increased its lead to seven points early in the third. Kapaun hung around though, and started its move with a stick-back by Scott Valentas to end the quarter before going on its burst in the fourth.
Neither team led by more than five in the first half. Kapaun did so after scoring the first five points of the game, although Carroll clawed back to tie it with five of its own.
The Eagles didn’t take a lead until the final minute of the first quarter, and RJ Biby thought he gave the guests the lead again on a jumper with 11 seconds left, but Meitzner answered with one of his own at the horn to make it 16-15 Kapaun.
Carroll held the lead for much of the second period, going up by five with 2:24 left before half, but a Mitchell Woodward three-pointer and another late bucket by Meitzner made it just a 27-25 Golden Eagle lead at the break.
CARROLL: Cundiff 6, Biby 13, Becker 14, Evans 12, Pracht 2, Mans 9, Jones 5.
KAPAUN: Hutton 5, Meitzner 19, Wells 11, Bell 14, Woodward 15, Valentas 4.