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Immaculate Conception senior Demetrius Carr will be playing quarterback at Minnesota State next year, so he is no stranger to taking charge in close games.
The 6-3 guard did it again on the hardwood Wednesday night, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the second half, including seven in the fourth quarter, to lead top-seeded IC to a 53-44 victory over Lisle at the Class 2A Westmont Regional semifinals.
The Knights (22-5) had routed fifth-seeded Lisle 73-40 in the regular season, but the Lions dramatically raised their level of play in this contest and put the pressure on in the fourth quarter.
Every time Lisle got close, however, Carr was there to score a big basket for the Knights.
“There’s a reason why they’re the No. 1 seed: he’s it,” Lisle coach Mark LaScala said.
Carr proved it time and again in the final period. IC led 30-21 at halftime but Lisle (14-15) outscored the Knights 14-7 in the third quarter and then cut the gap to 39-38 on a three-pointer by Jonny Parrillo with 6:21 left in the fourth quarter.
Freshman Rhaushaun Epting, who had nine points and eight rebounds, answered with a layup for IC, only to see Nick Saul score on a turnaround jumper to pull the Lions within 41-40.
Carr retaliated with a three-pointer and, after Lamont Ross made two free throws for Lisle, knocked down a 17-foot jumper to make it 46-42 at the 3:47 mark.
“Demetrius is a big-time gamer,” IC coach T.J. Tyrrell said. “He was kind of quiet for most of the game, especially in that first half [when] Clark [Brinkman] was really getting the scoring going for us, but when it came down to it, he’s the leader and he wants the ball in his hands in crunch time.
“He answered them every time they came with something at us, so it was good to see. He’s an amazing athlete.”
While Brinkman was tallying 15 of his game-high 17 points in the first half, Carr scored only four points on five shots, though he did dish out four assists. But he asserted himself when his team needed him late.
“We know now that it’s playoffs, we’re going to get everyone’s best game so we have to play to our best ability, and I just had the open shots tonight and I wanted to take advantage of them because I didn’t have them earlier on in the game,” Carr said. “I took what they gave me.”
The Lions, who trailed 48-44 after a 19-foot jumper by Ross with 1:25 to go, weren’t going to give Carr another open perimeter shot, so he barreled down the lane and scored with 48 seconds left, which put the game out of reach because Lisle mustered only one more shot after that.
“I knew the guy that was playing me was overplaying me to my left, so I just wanted to drive to the middle,” said Carr, who also had 10 rebounds. “I had the lane so I took a shot.”
Dawon Burrell scored 14 points, while Ross added 13 points and 13 rebounds for Lisle, which was hurt by foul trouble. IC made 19 of 26 free throws compared to the Lions’ 3 of 6.
“I thought it was the best basketball we’ve played,” LaScala said. “We did a good job of controlling the tempo and until about the three-and-half minute mark of the fourth quarter I really felt like we played excellent. But they’re a great team.”