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Prep Boys Basketball: Carlisle hangs tough in five-point loss to Oak Hill Academy
Chiefs use defeat as early season measuring stick
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Carlisle’s Thon Maker (middle) drives to the basket Friday past Oak Hill’s Caleb Martin (right) during the Chiefs’ 60-55 loss at Franklin County High School. (Ray Reynolds photo)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

By DOUG POWELL - Bulletin Sports Writer

Close, but not quite there yet.

The Carlisle Chiefs’ 60-55 loss to Oak Hill Academy on Friday night at Franklin County High School showed exactly where the Chiefs are as a team at this point in the season.

Close, but not quite there yet.

Oak Hill Academy entered Friday’s game ranked No. 14 in the nation, and is known as a perennial powerhouse annually in high school basketball. Nothing epitomizes that more than Warriors head coach Steve Smith’s staggering all-time win record that reached a new plateau with the win.

Smith picked up his 900th career win with the school Friday, but shook off the number with a laugh after the game and credited it to the talent he receives every year.

“It means I’m an old guy is what it means,” Smith said. “It means that I have obviously had a lot of good players through the years. I’ve been blessed to coach good players and the guys we have this year — I have guys like that every year.”

Smith wouldn’t give himself credit for his coaching skills during the win, but it was evident that it played a huge part in his milestone victory.

With some of the nation’s top talent featured in Friday’s contest, it was a back-and-forth game as expected.

Carlisle’s 7-foot sophomore center Thon Maker was called upon early and often by Chiefs head coach Jason Niblett, but the talented big man had some struggles in the game. Oak Hill brought multiple players to double, and sometimes triple-team Maker in the post which rattled him, causing some early turnovers and questionable shot selections.

“Of course we want Thon to attack,” Niblett said. “There’s no doubt he is our best player and we want him to attack the basket. But I give credit to Oak Hill, their defense played well.”

The Warriors’ defensive rotation did allow Carlisle’s three-point shooting to heat up, which allowed the team to stay in the game for the first half.

Carlisle also used a combination of man, zone, and full-court press on defense to keep the Warriors out of rhythm offensively.

“We wanted to mix it up and not allow them to get comfortable offensively,” Niblett said. “If you allow a team like Oak Hill to get comfortable, they will pick you apart. So we changed it up and showed them different looks.”

The Chiefs connected on five 3-pointers in the first half, including two from both Maker and Malcom N’diaye.

Eric Johnson hit a triple — his only basket of the game — to give the Chiefs a 31-30 lead at halftime.

As much as the 3-point shot gave the Chiefs life in the first half, it wasn’t as successful in the second half. Carlisle went without a 3-pointer in the third quarter allowing Oak Hill to outscore them 17-10, and retake the lead that was extended to as many as seven.

“We just couldn’t put the ball in the hole,” Niblett said. “It was like there was a lid on it for a stretch there.”

Coincidentally, the Warriors built their lead from behind the arc hitting their first three 3-point attempts to begin the second half.

Smith said he felt as though his team adjusted better to what they were seeing on the court defensively from the Chiefs, and that led to shooting with more confidence.

“I don’t think we executed very well against their zone especially in the first half,” Smith said. “We made some shots in the third quarter and got a little lead.”

Carlisle’s first 3-pointer of the second half came at the beginning of the fourth quarter when Yesid Mosquera knocked one down to make it 47-44 Oak Hill. Niblett then proceeded to draw up some designed plays for Maker, but the center was unable to cash in on any of them from the field.

He was able to get fouled multiple times, however, doing the rest of his damage from the charity stripe. He scored five points at the free throw line on his way to a 17-point night.

“Maker is tough,” Smith said. “We went zone a couple of times and he made some 3’s at the top. We didn’t get matched up, but we did do a pretty good job on him.”

Carlisle got as close as one point in the fourth quarter after Oak Hill drained nearly two minutes off the clock by just simply passing the ball between point guard Terrence Phillips and other teammates on one possession. But the Warriors got too cute with their passes, and had one intercepted by Kaleb Johnson which caused a foul and a 1-and-1 opportunity.

Johnson made 1-of-2 at the line, but the Warriors’ Caleb Martin did the rest.

After milking down a majority of the clock again, Martin drove to the basket and easily finished a layup to extend the lead to three.

Martin then answered Maker’s two made free throws with two of his own to bring the lead back to three.

With one last chance to tie, Maker had a contested 3-point shot from the right corner fall short.

“They’re the best team we have played,” Niblett said. “But I come into the game to win, not to lose. We’re going strap it on, go back to the laboratory, and get better and get ready for our next game.”

The Chiefs will get another shot at Oak Hill on Dec. 4, but that will be on Oak Hill’s home court in Mouth of Wilson.

The Chiefs host Genesis Academy at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Carlisle School gym.

 

 
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