Pat Kreke got the fight-back performance he was seeking from his Fenwick High School boys basketball team Saturday night.
The Falcons took a 54-34 beating from McNicholas at home Friday night, but they roared back 24 hours later to sink visiting Carroll 54-46 and solidify their hold on first place in the Greater Catholic League Coed North Division.
“I feel good when I watch them like this,” Kreke said after Fenwick improved to 12-3 overall and 6-2 in the GCLC. “I told them, ‘You guys can compete with anybody when you play like this, but anybody on your schedule can beat you if you play like you did last night.’
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“You’ve got to be mentally ready to bring it every night, and I’m just talking about competing. I don’t care if they lose after playing a really good game, but to go out like last night and just lay the egg and not compete at all, that just kills me. It was embarrassing at times.”
The Falcons were on the short end of a 13-12 halftime score against Carroll, but found their offense after the break. They also converted 18 of 23 free throws in the second half (21 of 27 overall).
Caleb Davis scored a career-high 16 points, C.J. Napier had 15 points and nine rebounds, and David Luers marked 10 points as Fenwick dropped Carroll to 10-5, 4-3.
Davis, a junior guard, said the players got together Saturday morning and discussed what was needed against the Patriots.
“We talked about resilience and being able to overcome what happened last night,” Davis said. “We really wanted to come out and bounce back from that loss, so we came out with a lot of intensity.”
Fenwick ran off 7 straight points early in the third quarter to erase a 15-12 deficit and never trailed again. The hosts stretched their lead to 43-33 with 3:10 remaining, yet still had to weather a point flurry by the Patriots.
Carroll had 20 points in the first three periods, then put up 26 in the fourth.
“There was a time I thought we could get a kill shot, and boy we didn’t,” said Kreke, noting the long-range bombing of Matt Cogan, who had 10 of his 13 points in the last quarter. “It’s always a battle with these guys.”
The Patriots couldn’t get closer than 4, though, and watched their eight-game winning streak come to a halt. Carroll’s last loss before Saturday also came from the Falcons, 50-48 on Dec. 22.
“When it mattered, they answered and kept us in check,” Patriots coach Tim Cogan said. “I think our guys mentally did not play tough. My guys don’t usually flail their hands or complain about anything. Tonight, they were just not in tune with facing difficult adversity, so we paid the price for it. That’s why they’re young kids, and I’ve got to keep teaching them.”
Eli Ramsey collected 10 points and 10 rebounds for Carroll. Austin Schafer had 9 points and Simon Jefferson added 8.
The Patriots only turned the ball over seven times, but made just 30.4 percent of their field goals.
“Defensively, I thought our kids played really well,” Kreke said. “Their energy and rebounding were just fantastic. I thought our kids played a smarter game of basketball than we’ve played in a while.”
Kreke praised Davis’ defensive work against Ramsey, the GCLC’s leading scorer. Davis also tallied 14 second-half points after reaching double figures just once before in his varsity career.
“I’m more of a defensive guy, but I feel like I can score as I get better,” Davis said. “I just tried to be aggressive and move along and do the best for my teammates.”
“Caleb Davis played his butt off tonight, defensively on Ramsey and offensively just absolutely doing some wonderful things,” Kreke said. “He elevates so well and took it to the basket strong.”
John Engelmeier buried two big 3s and Luers was 5 of 6 at the line for the Falcons in the fourth quarter, and Jared Morris had all 4 of his points in the last four-plus minutes. Fenwick totaled four field goals in the first half, 11 thereafter.
“We were trying to take advantage of them doubling down on C.J. and trying to get to the basket a little bit more and creating things, which we haven’t been able to do lately,” said Kreke, crediting his assistant coaches for their halftime adjustments on offense.
Carroll was coming off a 52-37 win over Purcell Marian on Friday night. Tim Cogan said his crew turned in a top-shelf performance against the Cavaliers.
“If you’d have seen us play last night, it was a totally different team,” Cogan said. “We didn’t play well defensively tonight. They were able to get to the rim way more than we had planned.”
The Patriots have three league games left, one with Alter and two with Chaminade Julienne, which is 3-3 in league play. Fenwick’s last two GCLC games will be against Alter and CJ.
“We’re at a disadvantage right now, there’s no question,” Cogan said. “We have to win out, which is not going to be easy. CJ is playing very well, and Alter’s playing a little bit better. And somebody’s got to knock (Fenwick) off, right? So it’s up to God now. You can quote that because I’m Catholic.”
Both teams have nonleague road games Tuesday, the Falcons vs. Miamisburg and the Patriots vs. Tipp City Bethel.
CARROLL (10-5, 4-3 GCLC North): Eli Ramsey 3 3 10, Simon Jefferson 3 1 8, Matt Cogan 3 4 13, T.K. Robinson 1 0 3, Sam Severt 0 1 1, Gavin Kinney 1 0 2, Austin Schafer 3 2 9. Totals: 14-11-46
FENWICK (12-3, 6-2 GCLC North): Caleb Davis 6 4 16, C.J. Napier 4 7 15, David Luers 1 7 10, John Engelmeier 2 1 7, Jared Morris 1 2 4, Jonathan Hoerlein 1 0 2. Totals: 15-21-54
3-pointers: C 7 (Cogan 3, Ramsey, Jefferson, Robinson, Schafer), F 3 (Engelmeier 2, Luers)