Carters carry Wauconda in season-opening win
Not as thick as his kid brother but only an inch taller with an identical curly bowl cut, senior Donovan Carter inadvertently tricked some fellow Wauconda students on Monday.
"I got called Garrison today by some of his friends," Carter said with a smile. "They were like, 'Hey, Gari.' "
Hey, wrong guy.
If Wauconda boys basketball opponents thought they had a hard time keeping track of Donovan Carter on the court in the past, wait until they see this season's Bulldogs.
Wauconda opened its season Monday night at Johnsburg against Northern Lake County Conference rival Grayslake North and started a lineup that included both Donovan and Garrison Carter. The look-alike brothers combined for 31 points and 20 rebounds, as the Bulldogs won 71-61.
Donovan Carter, a 6-foot-4, 170-pound guard and two-time all-area player, led the way with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 3 steals. He knocked down 10 of 19 shots (four 3-pointers). Garrison Carter (6-3, 200), a forward, had 4 points and 8 boards.
"He's got a nice jump shot," Donovan Carter said of his brother and only sibling. "He can drive hard, finish hard. I think he can bring defensive rebounding, and he can block shots."
Benji Chung added 15 points and 6 assists for Wauconda, which resumes the Johnsburg/Richmond-Burton Thanksgiving tournament on Tuesday with a 5:30 p.m. tipoff against Huntley at Johnsburg. Nick Bulgarelli had 10 points (two 3s), and Jake Shanholtzer hustled for 9 rebounds. Donovan Carter, Chung, Bulgarelli and Shanholtzer are all playing their third season on varsity.
Besides Garrison Carter, fellow sophomores Griffin Daun and Justin Drobnik also played minutes for Wauconda. Daun came off the bench to score 8 points, including two 3-pointers. Two others sophomores, Nicolas Brinias and Steven Reyes, also made roster.
"It's a good mixture of some young sophomores and four returning starters and five overall returning," Wauconda coach Scott Luetschwager said. "They're working hard."
"Wauconda's got loads of shooters," said Grayslake North coach Todd Grunloh, whose team plays host Johnsburg at 7 p.m. Tuesday. "They got to be one of the favorites, if not the favorite, for the conference."
Veterans Tony Hines and Jamon Thomas led the Knights with 18 points apiece. Grayslake North got a strong debut from 6-foot-1 freshman guard Dominic Jankowski, who started and filled up the stat sheet with 17 points, including a team-best three 3-pointers, and 8 rebounds.
"He's calm," Grunloh said. "He's not scared of anything."
Donovan Carter, Bulgarelli and Daun each sank a 3-pointer in the opening quarter, as Wauconda built a 21-15 lead and took a 37-30 advantage into halftime. The Bulldogs kept draining shots, including 3s by Donovan Carter and Chung, in outscoring the Knights 21-12 in the third quarter.
"I thought we played hard for 32 minutes," Grunloh said. "I was impressed with that. It's just, 'Smarter, not harder.' We were making mistakes in the first couple of minutes of the game when we were still trying to feel them out, and we were still taking quick shots 32 minutes later. I thought we worked and moved the ball. Whether they go in or not, it doesn't matter to me."
Luetschwager says he expects "a lot of smooth 3s coming off screens" from Donovan Carter as well as leadership on both ends of the court. That's what the coach got against Grayslake North.
"Then the rest of the team can focus on what they're doing," Luetschwager said, "because he's going to be doing his job."
Donovan Carter's performance was reminiscent of last year, when he opened the season by scoring 36 points (which is still his career high) in a win over host Johnsburg.
"I was aware of it," he said. "I just tried not to focus on it and (instead) focus on (Grayslake North) since it was a different team that we played last year."