2009-2010 Basketball: Carson boys preview
By David Shaw
Carson’s boys basketball team got a taste of the postseason in 2008-09, falling in the first round of the 3A state playoffs. This year it wants to sit down and enjoy a full serving.
“We grew up last year,” fourth-year coach Brian Perry said after a recent practice. “We’ve got some senior leaders who’ve been with us since the program started. These kids, they’re Carson kids, not transfers from East or South. They’re from Carson, and they know what I want.”
What Perry wants most from them is to play tighter defense. The Cougars went 1-8 in games they allowed at least 70 points a year ago. They finished sixth in the NPC with a 7-11 league record and went 12-15 overall, by far their most successful season.
“What I’d like now,” Perry said with a pause for emphasis, “is for these guys to leave school with something they can be proud of.”
Seniors Darius Moose and Brandon Ferrare are the lead floats in this parade. Moose, a 6-foot-3 swingman who will play collegiately at Brevard, is the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,229 points. A four-year varsity player, he was better than banana pudding last winter when he averaged 18 points a game and scored at least 20 on 12 different occasions.
“He could always score,” said Perry. “But last year he started defending, rebounding and leading the team. This year? He’s the total package.”
Ferrare is another Carson original. A point-guard with a Maserati engine, he’s become a steadier, pick-his-spots shooter.
“This kid goes a hundred miles an hour,” said Perry. “When he’s out there flying around, everyone else is flying around trying to keep up with him. Now that he’s gotten more consistent with the shot, people will have to respect him even more.”
Joining Ferrare in the backcourt will be senior Derrick Sewell, a defensive specialist who dropped a season-best 16 points on Forestview in a season-ending 64-61 playoff loss.
“He does all these things that go under-appreciated,” said Perry. “He’s got great anticipation skills. He takes charges. He’s a gritty rebounder. He’s our top defensive player.”
Junior Cody Clanton fills out Carson’s three-guard offense. A 6-3 slasher, he averaged five points per game last season and was a proficient scorer in summer league play.
“He gets to the basket, gets to the lane and knocks down jump shots,” Perry said. “We call him ‘Cold Blood’ because he never gets nervous or uptight.”
Carson’s fifth starter is fan-favorite Nick Houston, a 6-3 mop-top forward good for 10.5 ppg last winter.
“A lights-out shooter with a quick release,” Perry calls him.
Houston has improved defensively. “That makes him the ultimate team player,” said Perry. “If he can do all that consistently, he helps us tremendously.”
Five juniors and a pair of seniors ó 6-foot guard Tyler Crossen and forward Jonathan Barringer ó will come off the bench. Crossen was a junior varsity player as a ninth and 10th-grader who sat out last season.
“He’s grown five inches in the last year and a half,” Perry reported. “I guess he got discouraged, hit a growth spurt and got encouraged again.”
Barringer didn’t score a point in limited duty last year.
“We need him to push Moose in practice and rebound in games,” Perry said.
Point guard Devon Heggins may be the quickest Carson player. Perry says he’s more of a scoring threat than Ferrare, “and with those two on the floor, we can really push it.”
Zach Wagner, Dylan Eagle, Jared Raper and Clifford Long are jayvee graduates expected to contribute. At 6-4, Eagle is the tallest of the bunch. Wagner is an accurate shooter with a blue-collar work ethic. Raper is another waterbug point guard and Long is a small forward who bumps, bruises and plays fast.
“We’re not a big team,” Perry said. “So we’ve got to be scrappy. We’ve got some quickness, so we’ll be able to attack people off the dribble. And we’re just gonna have to go after rebounds, make ourselves crash the boards every time and chase the ball down.”
A return to the playoffs seems likely for Carson, perhaps even a trip to the elusive second round.
“That would be nice,” Perry concluded. “We’ve improved our win total every year and we came close to winning a playoff game. That’s given us some confidence. We’re a gritty team in a gritty league. I believe we have a chance to do really well this year.”