Carmel Catholic boys basketball coach Tim Bowen was not happy with his Corsairs' performance in their state tournament opener Tuesday night.
The Corsairs won, nonetheless, pulling out a 55-43 decision over Johnsburg in a Class 3A regional semifinal at Ridgewood.
Carmel (23-8) allowed only 8 shots and built a 13-2 first-quarter lead. But Johnsburg's Steve Dixon and Tanner Kreassig rallied the Skyhawks, who pulled even at 15-15. Carmel responed and took a 28-17 lead into halftime.
"I think we get a little bit too complacent when we get too big of a lead," said Bowen, whose Corsairs will meet Vernon Hills, which defeated Ridgewood 61-46, for the regional championship at 7 p.m. Friday. "Instead of staying sharp and working on things to get better, and doing the things we know we can do, we let up, especially on defensive side of the ball."
The Corsairs' Jack George led all scorers with 17 points and pulled down 9 rebounds, while teammate Michael Barr scored 15 points.
"We came out a little rocky," George said. "But once we started to play defense, get the ball inside to our big guys and forcing them to foul, that allowed us to open up our offense."
George is looking forward to playing Vernon Hills.
"We know they are going to come after us, and they are a hard-fighting team," George said. "They play a zone defense similar to what we do."
"Both teams are going to be ready on Friday," Barr said.
Chris Duff and Billy Kirby added 11 and 9 points, respectively, for Carmel.
Collin Ridout led Johnsburg (10-17) with 12 points, and Luke Lobermeier scored 9 points.
After Carmel built a 28-17 lead at halftime, its defense allowed only 6 points in the third quarter.