Warriors erase halftime deficit, win sectional title

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CCM/ Pete McIntire Carrollton senior Brock Smith (2) keeps his eye on the basket as he drives inside during the sectional semifinal game against River View.

By Carol McIntire
Carrollton came roaring back from a 26-21 halftime deficit to win the Division II East District sectional title Saturday 56-40 over Claymont in front a packed house in the CHS gym.
Fueled by a strong defensive effort in the third quarter which gave up only six points to the visiting Mustangs, the Warriors took the lead with 1:54 left in the third and steadily stretched the lead.
“We thrive on our defense; we live off our defense and I was a little upset that in the second quarter we did not defend like we normally do,” Coach Mike Aukerman said as his team cut down the net following the win.
The Warriors jumped out in front 9-0 early in the first quarter only to have the Mustangs cut the margin to 13-10 with the help of 3-point shots from Graydon Mooneyham and Devin Whitman. The visitors then outscored the Warriors 16-8 over the next eight minutes with the help of five 3-point shots.
“Our identity lies within our defense, and we just didn’t play well in the second period,” Aukerman said. “It was animated talk at halftime. We challenged them a little bit in terms of coming out and being little more solid and understanding we could win the game purely off our defense.”
Micah Barkan started the scoring for the Warriors in the third period with an inside shot before Cayden Smith banked a shot off the backboard and Lincoln Mallarnee shot both ends of a technical foul. Jaxon Rinkes added a short jumper and Barkan grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back in to cut the deficit to 32-21. Barkan then tied the game with a foul shot and gave his team a 34-32 lead with another inside shot. Barkan ended the night with seven points and led the winners in rebounds with 12.
Mallarnee quieted the Claymont crowd with a long 3-point shot and the Warriors offense found its swagger, outscoring the Mustangs 22-8 over the final seven minutes of the contest.
“The shots weren’t going for us the first half. You’ll have nights like that, but you have to get to the rim, and you’ve got to defend,” Aukerman said.
Mallarnee and Rinkes scored in double figures with 22 and 15 points respectively. Mallarnee handed four 3-point shots as did Nate Barnabi for Claymont. Mooneyham sank three and led the team with 13 points. and Devin Whitman one for the visitors. Barnabi added 12 points.
Carrollton was whistled for 18 fouls and Claymont 13, including one technical.
Aukerman expressed pride in his team’s ability to win a sectional title at home.
“The goal was to win the sectional at home,” he said. “The numbers on the banner are a big deal for us. We have an EBC (Eastern Buckeye Conference) title up there, we’ll have a sectional title up there and now we have to put another number up there.”
The Warriors will work toward that end when they travel to Edison High School March 1 (this Wednesday) to take on the East Liverpool Potters in a district semifinal contest at 7 p.m.

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