Early foul trouble and late scoring drought stifled Carroll’s chances at advancing in Saturday’s Logansport Boys Basketball Regional, making the Chargers the second one-and-done team from the Fort Wayne area on the afternoon.
The No. 19 Chargers (18-7) took the early out with a 52-46 loss to No. 13 Lafayette Jefferson (25-2).
Carroll junior Jalen Jackson and senior Sam Strycker — two of the Chargers’ leading scorers with 22.5 and 9.5 points per game, respectively — each picked up early fouls in the first half Saturday. As a result, the pair were limited to just three collective field goals. Nevertheless, both teams were able to manufacture nine lead changes throughout the contest, with Carroll carrying a two-point advantage into the final eight minutes of play.
“Those are key guys in key spots that handle the ball and get the ball where it needs to go, so it hurts a little bit,” Carroll Head Coach Marty Beasley said of the early fouls. “I thought we did a nice job coming out in the third quarter and establishing ourselves with the lead, and then in the fourth quarter the fouls just kind of hurt us a little bit. And, I thought our rotations were slow, but it was a great year — great group of guys, loved coaching them. I feel for them right now. They competed, laid it on the line, but it just wasn’t our day.”
Coming into Saturday’s tournament, the Chargers knew one of the keys to victory would be limiting looks by the Bronchos’ Brooks Barnhizer, a 6-foot-7 senior and Northwestern commit who averaged 33.2 points ahead of Saturday’s semifinal. Barnhizer finished the afternoon with a game-high 27 points.
“We kind of knew what they were going to do,” Beasley said. “Barnhizer’s really good — the ball’s going to be in his hands. We thought we could keep him making some tough shots and keep him from scoring and we would’ve had a chance, and I think we kind of did that. We just hurt ourselves by missing some layups.”
Carroll was 1-for-6 shooting on its first seven possessions of the game, giving up a 7-0 Broncho run, including back-to-back threes by Barnhizer and fellow senior Jacob Collicott. Strycker and Jackson answered with consecutive layups for a 4-0 Carroll run to come within one point of Jefferson, while the Bronchos led 11-8 at the buzzer.
The second quarter saw four lead changes — the first going in Carroll’s favor following a perfect 4-of-4 performance by Jackson at the free-throw line. The Bronchos finished the half on another 7-0 run to lead 23-18. Jackson, who was coming off a 45-point performance at the East Noble sectional a week prior, was held to just two field goals through the entire first half.
The Chargers started the second half on a 5-0 run, briefly tying the game 23-23. Shortly after, Jackson scored his third bucket of the game to give Carroll its first lead of the half, 25-24. The third quarter saw two more lead changes, with Carroll taking a 33-31 advantage on the back of an and-one by Strycker and a 3-pointer by senior Zach Castator for a 6-0 Carroll run.
The Chargers led by as many as six points in the fourth quarter, outscoring Jefferson 6-2 out of the gate, including back-to-back buckets by Jackson. The Bronchos responded with a 12-0 run to take the lead 45-39 with under two minutes left to play. Carroll managed to narrow that lead to four, but still only mustered seven points over the final half of the quarter. Jefferson made a total of 12 free throws through the final eight minutes of the game, capping off a 19-of-24 performance from the charity stripe compared to Carroll’s 7-of-7 — 4-of-4 by Jackson and 3-of-3 by Strycker.
It was Carroll’s first trip to regional since 2016. The last time the Chargers won the title was in 2010, during Beasley’s fifth year as head coach.
“I thought we had a chance today,” Beasley said. “We just didn’t do what we had to do. We’ve got to get some production out of some people, we’ve got to make some easy plays, and we just didn’t do it. They’re good — they made some good plays.”
Jackson led the Chargers with 18 points, while Strycker scored nine and senior Cody Burkey added eight. The Chargers were 15-for-29 shooting from two and only 23% from beyond the arc. Barnhizer was 8-of-18 from the floor, including a trio of 3-pointers, and 8-of-10 from the free-throw line.
It was the third-lowest scoring game of the season for a Carroll squad that averaged 59.3 points per game this season, and the last game in a Carroll uniform for five seniors — Strycker, Castator, Burkey, Ryan Preston and Cam Hedgecock.
“We made some poor decisions, we missed some layups,” Beasley said. “I don’t know how many more layups we could miss, so we kind of gave them the game right there. You’ve got to make layups, you’ve got to take care of the ball, and we didn’t do that.”