For the Big Spring Bulldogs, the 2018-19 season began with a history lesson in Carlisle basketball.
Big Spring head coach Jason Creek, a former Carlisle assistant, took his Bulldog team into historic Gene Evans Gymnasium to take on the Thundering Herd in the opening round of the 2018 Carlisle Classic Friday, where the Herd handed them a 58-41 loss.
Carlisle got six 3-pointers from senior guard Quentin Myers and forced 24 Big Spring turnovers to outdo a 19-point effort from Big Spring junior Gavin Pritchard in what was the season opener for both teams.
“We just can't turn it over 24 times,” Coach Creek said afterward. “I'm proud of our effort and the way we played. We didn't execute perfectly, but we really followed the game plan and tried our best to get Gavin the ball inside.”
The Herd, aided by a large, partisan crowd, took an early lead during an understandably sloppy start. But back to back buckets from Pritchard, followed by a nice defensive play from Trevor Moyer to strip Carlisle's Kurtis Ravenel in the final possession kept the Bulldogs within two after the first quarter of play, 10-8.
Myers then got red hot from the outside, burying four threes in the second quarter alone – most of them from the corner – to create some separation between the two clubs.
The made baskets also allowed the Herd to set up their full court press. A Myers triple, followed by a steal and basket from Dayne Grays, gave Carlisle their first double digit lead with 2-minutes remaining in the first half. Big Spring freshman Matthew Ward then responded with a three of his own to trim the Carlisle edge to eight at the interval, 33-25.
Carlisle continued to distance themselves with quick spurts fueled by Big Spring turnovers. But when the Bulldogs got the opposition into the halfcourt, they proved they had the talent capable of hanging with the Herd.
A 6-0 Big Spring run thanks to 3-pointers from Moyer and Ward got the visitors back to within ten late in the third quarter, 45-35. But Carlisle guard Howie Rankine came alive in the fourth quarter to help put the game away.
Myers finished the game with a team-high 18 points. Rankine chipped in with 9 and Ravenel 8 for Carlisle.
“We know that we are going to have to win more games on the defensive end this year. We didn't play close to our best defensive game, but we are really going to have to lock up this year and play 'D'. It really helped that some of our shooters were hot,” said Carlisle head coach Andre Anderson. “Hats off to Big Spring, they were prepared and they were ready. We utilized a bunch more bodies than they did and that wore them down over the long run.”
For Big Spring, three players: Ward, sophomore wing JT Kuhn, and sophomore guard Everett Baker; played their first ever varsity game. And three more made their first every varsity start: Kuhn, Ward, and sophomore guard Jack Shulenberger.
Moyer joined Pritchard in double figure with 13 points Friday.
“We wanted to take away Howie [Rankine] first and Quentin second, but we got beat by [Myers] a couple times and lost focus on where he was. We adjusted well at halftime. Carlisle, they are athletic and get after it. And other than the turnovers, I thought we were right there. We are going to be alright,” Creek stated.
Before the game, Carlisle unveiled the newly renovated Coach Lebo Court and offered fans an opportunity to buy a piece of the old floor – the same one where Carlisle won 4 straight state championships in the 1980's.
“I have so much respect for Carlisle basketball and the history of Carlisle basketball. That's why I wanted to come back here and play, to give our kids the experience of playing here,” Coach Creek said Saturday. “You can't simulate this experience anywhere else, playing at Carlisle on the road. They handled it well for the first time. I think it'll be a great learning experience and I think we'll be able use it down the road.”
Moyer beats Mechanicsburg at the buzzer
Big Spring senior guard Trevor Moyer drained a pull-up jumper with just 2-seconds remaining to send the Bulldogs to a trilling 36-35 victory over the Mechanicsburg Wildcats in the consolation game of the Carlisle Classic Saturday afternoon at Carlisle High School.
The Bulldogs (1-1) relied on their defense in what was a back and forth, low-scoring battle. They got off to a strong initial start, but the Wildcats came back to even the score at the half.
The Wildcats (0-2) took a one point lead on a three pointer from Nick Tomasko with less than a minute remaining, setting the stage for Moyer's game-winner.
Gavin Pritchard and Matthew Ward led the Bulldogs each had 11 points in the victory. Moyer finished with only 4, but came up big when the team needed him the most.
Noah Weidman scored 11 points for Mechanicsburg.
Big Spring is back on the road Friday when they take on Mid Penn Colonial Division rival Shippensburg in the final game of quad-header at Shippensburg High School. Tip-off is tentatively scheduled for 7:30 p.m.