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Hoggard helps Carroll sink his hometown team

WEST CHESTER >> There was a little smirk and a lot of hedging from AJ Hoggard Sunday evening.

For the Archbishop Carroll sophomore, playing against his hometown of Coatesville was just another game … but one where the layers tacked on made it not exactly just another game. The familiarity with friends and former teammates like Dapree Bryant and Jahmir Brickus (the latter of whom Hoggard carpooled home from their respective games) added something unique.

On the court, Hoggard didn’t try to do too much, and as the All-Delco point guard usually does, he discovered the right balance.

Hoggard took control early with Carroll flailing to sort out its halfcourt offense, then deferred late as others stepped up in a 70-55 win at the Performance Refinement West Chester Showcase.

The final margin is deceptive: Carroll nursed a 51-50 lead with six minutes to play before finishing on a 19-4 run, a stretch that included mini-spurts of 8-0 and 7-0 to wrest control away.

Hoggard was vital to Carroll’s efforts with 19 points, 15 of them in the first three quarters when he was among the only option seeming to connect for the Patriots (2-0).

“I just saw it as a regular game,” Hoggard said. “It was a little friendly battle, little matchup. That’s all it is.”

Eventually, the balance Carroll has sought this season materialized. It didn’t include Justin Anderson, who was 3-for-14 from the field and without a point in the second half or a field goal attempt in the fourth quarter. Instead, other less expected faces stepped up.

Keyon Butler was steady all afternoon with 16 points and 11 rebounds, even if his touch at the free-throw line let him down after he made his first six attempts, then missed his final six. Devon Ferrero scored six of his 10 points in the fourth to go with eight boards. And Luke House shook off a rough first three quarters with all eight of his points in the fourth — including a personal 6-0 run to stretch the lead to 59-50 — to complement 10 rebounds. House also took a charge on Coatesville center Tyrel Bladen with 2:45 left, Blayden’s fifth foul.

“He came down with six straight points and took that charge for us,” Ferrero said. “That really lit up the team. After that, we knew we weren’t going to lose that game.”

For three quarters, Carroll’s big-man-by-committee of Ferrero, House, Butler and Tairi Ketner did plenty of work, just not much on the offensive side. With nine boards from Kenter, Carroll held a 49-37 edge on the glass, the missed shot being a primary driver of offense.

In the fourth, though, House and company emerged in the points department, too.

“It means a lot because the first half, we saw that Luke struggled,” Hoggard said. “Everybody saw it. Second half, he turned it up in the fourth quarter. It was different. Keyon stepped up, everybody stepped up.”

Where Carroll finally put the pieces together, Coatesville couldn’t seem to. The Red Raiders shot just 3-for-20 from 3-point range. They were just 12-for-24 from the free throw line in a chippy affair where they were in the double bonus by the end of the third quarter.

Brickus led the way with 22 points, but it took 21 shots to get there. Bladen was held to 10 points and seven rebounds, and Bryant’s wayward shooting night kept him to nine points. Coupled with 15 turnovers and transition defense that was uncharacteristically slow to react, it proved too much for Coatesville to overcome.

“We’ve got to get better at getting back on defense, stopping the ball earlier so they don’t get into their offense in transition,” Brickus said.

The final result found Hoggard victorious in the battle between neighbors and friends. And no matter what he chose to call it or how he approached it, getting the win felt good.

“I didn’t want to lose to my city, so I know they didn’t want to lose to me either,” he said. “So I knew they were coming a little harder tonight.”

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