Sophomore helps Heights turn back Carroll
If each game represents a chapter of Heights' 49-game winning streak, then many storylines have surfaced over the three years of its existence that have made it the country's longest.
Most of them feature Perry Ellis, now a senior who has produced many efforts like Tuesday's 23 points and seven rebounds to keep the streak going.
But the newest, and for coach Joe Auer, the most tantalizing one emerged on Tuesday night in Heights' 63-46 victory at home over Bishop Carroll to improve to 5-0 and pick up win No. 49.
Sophomore Ealy Bell, whose value was thought to be as the team's best perimeter defender, found his flow on offense. And it couldn't have come at a better time for Heights, which was nursing injuries to Gavin Thurman (wrist) and Terrence Moore (ankle).
"The light bulb went off for him tonight," Auer said after Bell scored 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting. "He's been pretty good for us defensively, but offensively he's struggled this year. Tonight he made some big shots and really got us out of the doldrums in the first half. I thought he really sparked us and was a difference-maker tonight."
Everything about the game felt like a trap for Heights. Thurman sat out from the game, and Moore didn't start. Under Lonnie Lollar, Carroll has traditionally been tough for any team. And the Falcons have a showdown with undefeated Northwest on Saturday.
"I told them before the game this will always be one of your most difficult games of the year," Auer said. "I don't care when or where it's played, it's always going to be tough. And it was."
The threat became real in the second quarter, when Carroll took a 17-10 lead. That's when Bell said he felt like he had no choice. On the next possession, Bell let loose his first shot of the night — a three-pointer that swished through the net.
"It just started clicking after that," Bell said. "I felt like I had to be a big presence on the team tonight, so I just kept shooting."
Whenever Carroll threatened to add to its lead, Bell was there. He came up with a steal and dunk to tie the game at 17. A few plays later, Bell drained another three-pointer for a 20-20 tie. He also came up with a critical offensive rebound that set up a Gabe Lynch layup for a 25-23 halftime lead.
"He's been working hard in practice, gaining confidence," Ellis said. "That was good for him to play through the flow of the offense. He's doing really well driving and everything."
Carroll couldn't hold on much longer past the first half. The Eagles would claw to within seven points twice, but couldn't produce enough defensive stands.
Hitting on more three-pointers would have made the difference for Carroll (1-5, 1-5 City League). Instead, the Eagles struggled through a 4-of-18 performance.
Lollar compared it to a boxing match.
"We had to get to the 15th round," Lollar said. "I think we got to probably the 13th. We still had some good punches left in us, but we just didn't make enough shots."
Carroll (1-5, 1-5) 12 11 13 10 — 46 Heights (5-0, 4-0) 8 17 20 18 — 63
CARROLL: Newell 1 0-0 3, Reazin 1 0-0 3, J. Bieberle 3 3-4 10, Ta. Palmore 4 2-2 11, Sauber 1 0-0 2, Loy 5 1-6 11, Troilo 0 4-4 4, Ty. Palmore 1 0-0 2, Bullinger 0 0-0 0, M. Bieberle 0 0-0 0, Price 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 (4) 10-16 46.
HEIGHTS: Lynch 1 5-6 7, Reed 0 0-0 0, Bell 5 2-4 14, Smith 1 1-2 3, Ellis 9 5-6 23, Moore 6 2-5 15, Lattimore 0 1-2 1, Kolbeck 0 0-0 0, Lowe 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 (3) 16-25 63.