A sudden burst of energy from Nickai Poyser turned a potential close game into a rout.
Visiting Joliet Catholic had pulled to within 21-16 when the Carmel Catholic junior came off the bench early in the third quarter. Poyser proceeded to deliver 7 points, 2 blocked shots, 1 rebound and 1 assist in less than six minutes of third-quarter action to propel the Corsairs to a 42-20 victory Friday night in East Suburban Catholic Conference play.
"I was just trying to get my teammates involved," said Poyser, who finished with 9 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. "I always feel like I need to help out my team at all times."
In this instance, the 6-foot guard delivered a 3-pointer from the left wing, converted a fastbreak layup, finished off a driving layup and flipped a pass to 6-9 Jack George for a layup.
One observer certainly enjoyed the show.
"We've been asking him to play with some sureness out there," said Corsairs coach Tim Bowen, whose team improved to 7-9, 1-3. "He's big and strong, and he's a physical player who can get to the basket."
Poyser smiled when discussing his bomb from behind the 3-point stripe.
"I like to hit the 3," Poyser said. "I feel like I'm a 3-point shooter, and I'm not afraid to hit it."
Corsair junior Billy Kirby also stepped up his game after intermission. He scored 6 of his 8 points by taking advantage of what the Hilltoppers gave him.
"I saw the holes in the zone," Kirby said. "I was trying to exploit those holes and hit the open shots."
Kirby turned a driving layup into a 3-point play to give Carmel a 24-16 lead. He also bagged a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to stretch the edge to 36-18.
"Billy hit a couple of nice shots," Bowen noted.
The coach hopes the 6-foot Kirby is turning the corner.
"It's hard to be a point guard in our league," said Bowen of the rugged ESCC. "He (Kirby) is getting there."
George added 10 points and 6 rebounds for the Corsairs.
The other key to victory was defense, as Joliet Catholic (4-18, 0-5) hit only 6 of 33 field-goal attempts.
"We knew we could pressure them," Kirby offered. "Get up in their faces and cause havoc."
The Corsairs, who have won two straight games, hope to build on the good vibes they have built this week.
"We just have to keep exerting the same effort every day," Kirby said. "We have to build off this game and keep moving forward."