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Carmel steps forward in back gym
By Jeff Newton | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 1/19/2013 10:39 PM

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The venue switch to the old back gym at Carmel Catholic seemed like a fitting backdrop for the Carmel-Libertyville rivalry, and in the eyes of Carmel senior Greg Edkins, it felt just like home.

“We practice in that gym every day so we feel like it’s our home court,” Edkins said. “We are real comfortable in there, so when we heard we were playing in there I think we were fine with it.”

Carmel is hosting a fundraiser Sunday for the athletics programs at the school, which forced the switch out of the main gym.

With the way the Corsairs played Saturday night against the visiting Wildcats, they may never want to switch back.

Carmel broke open the game in the second quarter and used the same stifling defense that limited Joliet Catholic to only 20 points the night before to hold Libertyville to just 9 field goals in a 55-30 triumph.

“I have always been big on the defensive side of things,” Carmel coach Tim Bowen said. “I have always looked at it that if you can get some stops and make things difficult for the other team, the offense will happen for you.”

Carmel (8-9) earned its stops on the defensive end with Edkins leading the way. He was tasked with Libertyville leading scorer Jack Lipp, and Edkins limited him to just 5 shots taken and 3 points.

“(Lipp) is a good scorer and we knew he would get his points,” said Edkins who chipped in with 7 points for the Corsairs. “We knew the offense ran through him so we figured if we could shut him down we could do some things.”

After a tight first quarter, Carmel led 13-7. But then the Corsairs turned up the defense and nearly shut out the Wildcats. Libertyville (2-15) was held without a field goal from the 2:05 mark of the first quarter until a bucket from John Vernasco (4 points) with 4:01 left in the third quarter.

During that stretch, the outside shooting of Carmel was tough for the Wildcats to defend. Junior Nickai Poyser drained a long, fall-away 3-pointer to end the first half, giving Carmel a 28-10 halftime advantage; he led all scorers with 14.

“We just couldn’t score,” Libertyville coach Scott Bogumil said. “We ran some inside looks and had some wide open 3’s that just didn’t fall for us.”

Carmel put the game on cruise control opening up the lead to over 20 points in the third quarter. Senior Cullen Barr contributed 11 points in a balanced Carmel attack. Sophomore Joe Borcia added 6 points to lead Libertyville.