Maize needed everything 5-foot-6 guard Cortlin Standifer had for the first 24 minutes of Friday night’s 59-51 win over Bishop Carroll at Koch Arena.
In the last two minutes, in the face of a torrid rally by Carroll, all Maize needed was Ky-Sean Johnson. And some sharp free-throw shooting.
“We kept our composure,” Maize coach Chris Grill said. “We had a nice lead, not a huge lead, and we made a few mistakes and Carroll was able to get back in it. But our kids were very poised, they were able to bring it back in.”
Maize brought back the win with a big boost from Standifer, who finished with 22 points — all in the first three quarters — as Carroll struggled to defend him, inside and out.
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Standifer hit two three-pointers and went 6 for 6 from the free-throw line. He was also effective around the rim, cutting to the hoop for a handful of layups.
“I was getting wide-open lanes to the basket and my teammates were finding me in the right spot,” Standifer said. “I thought we executed our offense really well.”
The two teams traded shots for much of the first quarter, with Carroll’s Patrick Carney doing most of the damage, hitting a pair of three-pointers for a 14-12 Carroll lead.
In the second quarter, Maize got some separation, going up 29-22 at halftime on a pair of free throws by Standifer. Maize pushed its lead to 41-31 with 2:02 left in the third quarter on a free throw by 6-foot-5 forward Matthew LeBegue, who finished with 11 points and four blocks and was charged with trying to contain Carroll star Connor Evans for most of the night.
“They were running (Evans) through everything, a lot of high screens to posting up ... we watched a good amount of film on him so we were pretty ready,” LeBegue said. “But the thing about all great players is that they’ll find a way to score, and that’s what he started to do late.”
Evans did lead a scoring charge, grabbing two quick baskets as part of a 6-0 Carroll run to end the third quarter that cut Maize’s lead to 41-37. He drew a charge then hit a pair of free throws with 3:30 left to cut Maize’s lead to 46-45.
Johnson took over after that. He hit two free throws with 2:01 left, then grabbed two quick layups in transition for a 53-45 lead.
“We were trading baskets and needed to get a little run going,” Johnson said. “I thought Cortlin really stepped up tonight. When other people were struggling, he was there.”
Still, Carroll wouldn’t go away. After a Maize turnover with 56.8 seconds left, Carney’s basket cut the lead to 53-51. With Carroll forced to foul, Maize hit six straight free throws in the last 30 seconds — two by Logan Miller and four by LeBegue — to ice the win and improve to 6-1.
Carney led Carroll (4-3) with 23 points, but his team was 8 of 18 at the free-throw line.
“Maize has a really good team, they’ve got a nice inside presence a pair of really good guards,” Carroll coach Lonnie Lollar said. “And we shot ourselves in the foot, especially at the free-throw line. I was proud of how we rallied, but we need to be able to finish.”
Johnson added 16 points for Maize.
“When we were finally able to get some control and they had to foul us, that was a good spot for us to be in because we’ve got some good shooters,” Grill said. “It’s nice to see our guys able to knock down free throws in that situation.”
Carroll: Hornback 2, Carney 23, Evans 17, Iseman 3, Kennedy 2, Wilbert 2, Scharping 2.
Maize: Standifer 22, LeBegue 11, Miller 9, Johnson 16, Goode 1.