Julien's senior savvy helps Carmel past Joliet Catholic
On a team that is loaded with five talented sophomores, it was a senior who stood out for the Carmel boys basketball team on Wednesday night.
Fitting, because it was Senior Night for the Corsairs.
Senior guard Brian Julien got hot early and finished with a game-high 23 points in leading Carmel to a 52-43 East Suburban Catholic Conference victory over Joliet Catholic in Mundelein.
The Corsairs are now 12-16 overall and 3-6 in the ESCC. They have won two conference games in a row.
"It's (emotional)," said Julien, who opened the first quarter with 8 points, including two big 3-pointers. "This is my last regular season home game, and it was good. I was just knocking down shots and I felt good about it.
"These last four years have been pretty successful. I've really enjoyed playing basketball here. There have been some tough times (with the younger players learning), but those guys are doing a lot better. The seniors just tried to take a leadership role and help them out."
One of the sophomores helped Carmel with double-figure scoring. Forward Johnny Roeser finished with 11 points, including a 5-of-8 performance at the free throw line in the fourth quarter as Carmel tried to ice the game.
The Corsairs were up 10 points at halftime (23-13) and kept Joliet Catholic at arm's length for most of the third quarter. But the pesky Hilltoppers would not go away.
Joliet Catholic cut its deficit to 6 points midway through the fourth quarter and to 5 points with about a minute to play.
Senior forward Pete Ragen scored 6 of his team-high 14 points in the fourth quarter for the Hilltoppers.
"(Joliet Catholic) is good," Carmel coach Zack Ryan said. "They've played some really good conference teams tough. Benet was like a 6-point game for them. So to get out of here with a win is big for us, especially short-handed."
Carmel was down a starter, sophomore guard Evan Myers. Myers was out with the flu. He is the Corsairs' third-leading scorer.
"We're playing pretty well right now," Ryan said. "I thought we defended hard tonight and made it tough for them. We were making them work in the half-court.
"Offensively, I was happy with how we ran our stuff and how we finished the game. We've had trouble sometimes closing out games, doing the things that young kids don't always get. But we did those things, we made free throws and that was good."
Carmel connected on 13-of-17 free throws in the fourth quarter to close the door on Joliet Catholic.
Joliet Catholic also got 9 points from Dexter Spencer and 7 points from Donovan Finch.