Carmel Catholic's attempt at tying a pair of national records -- no fouls committed and no two-point field goals allowed -- ended in the second half.
In what did turn out to be history-making for Carmel -- its first game in Jacobs' tournament after years competing in Wheeling's Hardwood Classic -- the Corsairs settled for recording a 43-34 win over Cary-Grove in the opening game of the Hinkle Holiday Classic in Algonquin Saturday morning.
Carmel (7-2) was led by sophomore Chris Duff's game-high 16 points, which, coincidentally, was a personal record for the second-year varsity player.
"They gave me looks, and I took the looks," Duff said after shooting 5 of 6 from the floor 4 of 4 from the foul line.
Duff hit his only two 3-point attempts. His performance came after the Corsairs had worked in practice specifically on finishing at the basket while getting bumped.
"He had a game," Carmel coach Tim Bowen said of his 6-foot-1 guard. "He did a much better job of getting to the basket, taking it strong and finishing. I'm not worried about his 3s. He's a pretty good shooter."
The game was a big contrast from when the teams met Dec. 6 at Cary-Grove. Carmel's hot shooting propelled the Corsairs to a 64-31 rout. The Corsairs jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the rematch but were eventually slowed by the Trojans' 2-3 zone.
"We knew what we had to come out and do because of the last game," Duff said. "We had to come back and fight even harder because they had nothing to lose."
Cary-Grove (3-6) shot 10 of 25 from beyond the arc and 2 of 9 from inside it. Due partly because they did not attack the basket, the Trojans never went to the free-throw line the entire game. Carmel did not commit a foul until Duff was whistled with 4:29 left in the third quarter.
Cary-Grove trailed 31-27 after three, scoring all of its points on 3-pointers (three in each quarter).
"That's what happens when you got a 6-6 and 6-9 guy out there and our post (Rob Johnson) is 6-2," said Cary-Grove coach Ralph Schuetzle, whose team faced a Carmel squad featuring 6-6 Michael Barr (10 points, 6 rebounds) and 6-9 Jack George (9 points, 6 rebounds).
The Trojans didn't hit a two-point field goal until Jason Gregoire (8 points, two 3s) muscled up a shot 51 seconds into the fourth quarter.
"We were trying to get it inside and then kick it out for a 3," said senior guard Devin McDonough, who led C-G with 9 points on 3-of-6 shooting (all from three-point range). "We took a lot of 3s, but I thought they were open, so they were good shots."
McDonough's right-wing 3 gave Cary-Grove a 32-31 lead with 6:41 left in the fourth, but it was the Trojans' last 3-pointer. After Mike Krich (8 points off the bench, two 3s) hit a pullup jumper to cut Carmel's lead to 35-34 with 5:20 to go, Cary-Grove never scored again.
"We just didn't take care of the ball," McDonough said after the Trojans committed 3 turnovers in the fourth. "That's what happened early on. We were looking to force it a little bit. They started to pressure a little more. We just got to value the basketball. I thought that was the theme for the whole game."
Carmel closed the contest by scoring the last 8 points. George and Barr each had their second dunks to secure the Corsairs' win and snap their two-game losing streak.
"We had to respond very aggressively," Duff said. "We had to be a little more tougher, take care of the ball and run our offense."
Down the stretch, Bowen relied on his senior veterans -- George, Barr and guards Nickai Poyser and Billy Kirby, who didn't score but dished out 4 assists.
"They got a lot of poise out there," Bowen said. "(The execution in the fourth quarter), that's just the kids saying, 'No, we're not going to let this happen.' The four seniors that were on the floor took that over."
"We knew (Carmel) was going to spend a lot of time at halftime talking about how to attack the 2-3 (zone)," Schuetzle said. "We were just going to try to stick with our switching man-to-man. When we pressed -- which we have to do to create tempo -- they got some easy baskets."