Beating Carroll becoming a Daly challenge

RADNOR — The scouting report compiled by New Castle last Friday for its meeting with Archbishop Carroll certainly listed Derrick Jones at or near the top.

It likely made mention of the slipperiness of point guard Josh Sharkey, the shooting of Ryan Daly, and the dribble-drive tendencies of David Beatty.

Understandably, guard Colin Daly likely wasn’t too high up the list, and for that, you might sympathize with the plight of New Castle, which dropped a 77-48 decision in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals.

The game pivoted on a 10-0 run in the second quarter, which blew open a three-point contest and provided Carroll a cushion it never relinquished. The pendulum-swinging run was propelled by 3-pointers by Ryan Daly and his younger brother, Colin. The latter is emblematic of the abundance of options the Patriots possess to attack opposing teams.

That diversity and balance of scoring is a major factor in the Patriots’ berth in the PIAA semifinals, where they will take on Eric Cathedral Prep, the District 10 champion, Tuesday night. Tipoff at Bald Eagle Area High School in Wingate is at 7:30.

No team gets to the point that Carroll (22-6) has without a bevy of methods of posting Ws.

Want to play zone? Then the brothers Daly can tee up shots from deep. Try to focus on stopping the penetration of Sharkey? Just let Beatty handle the ball, or allow he and Ryan Daly to show off their impeccable mid-range games, fostered by their size and instinct to find pockets of space. Thinking of fronting Jones to deny possession? Then you’ll have to somehow keep him off the glass, too.

Colin Daly has a unique niche in that ecosystem for Carroll, which has used a torrid postseason to up its points-per-game average to an even 70 this season. The sophomore has 15 made field goals this season; 11 are from beyond the arc. At this juncture in his career, he has no qualms about what’s expected from him.

“My role is just 3-point shooting,’ he said at practice Monday. “I’m not usually on the court for anything else, so it’s really important that I shoot well when I’m on the court.’

Friday, against the defending PIAA Class AAA champs, Daly scored eight points, hitting a pair of triples. The total is made more impressive given the fact Daly missed four games with a broken thumb on his left (non-shooting) hand. He returned for the second-round shellacking of Steelton-Highspire and admitted that the pace of the New Castle game was a little more up-tempo than his fitness level would’ve liked.

Before that injury, Daly enjoyed a stretch where he hit six 3-pointers over four games, all Catholic League contests, scoring 22 points.

That may seem like small potatoes on a team with such explosive point producers. But an easy, trite stereotype that District 12 teams like Carroll are often tagged with is zone defenses can mute them offensively. All it takes is a couple of 3-pointers from the Dalys (Ryan is the team leader with 54 triples) to start the wave of momentum and get teams to abandon that tactic.

“Our coach really helped us with a lot of shooting drills,’ said Beatty, who is third on the team with 15 triples, including seven in the last seven games. “… Once we start making shots, we open the whole defense up and they can’t stop us from there.’

Colin Daly takes pride in that zone-busting job. One shot here and there can change the complexion of a game, as Friday evidenced.

“I guess that’s what I do,’ he said. “If we can’t get our offense started, usually I’ll go in. … It’s pretty tough because it’s like they’re counting on you to make it. If you miss or you have an off game, then they can’t break the zone and it’s pretty tough.’

The win over New Castle has earned the Dalys something of a homecoming, playing just down the road from Penn State, where their father, Brian, is the men’s assistant basketball coach. The children of the former Monsignor Bonner standout and Saint Joseph’s player used to attend State College schools just down the road.

The Patriots have seen just about every possible defense thrown their way. Steel-High was one of many teams employing a 3-2 zone, which was victimized by first-quarter triples from Beatty and Ryan Daly in running out to a 27-5 lead after eight minutes en route to the 83-54 humbling.

Box-and-one approaches are generally ineffective, since shutting down one of four double-figures scorers only emboldens the others. And doubling the post to clamp down on Jones is only effective if teams deny him on the offensive glass, his primary source of offense.

What makes the system run — as much as the distribution of Sharkey and the talent of its component parts — is an unselfish mentality.

“We’ve just got that type of bond,’ Beatty said. “We don’t care who’s got the spotlight, we just want to win. We’re just all winners, and that’s what we want to do.’

Awaiting the Patriots is a team with an identical 22-6 record that seems tough to peg on paper. The Ramblers have won seven straight, and all six losses came in a 10-game stretch from Jan. 16 to Feb. 10, starting with a loss to Class A city champ Constitution, 61-56.

The Ramblers can play a variety of ways. They ran with Hampton in an 86-70 win in the first round, then slowed Ambridge down to claim a 53-39 win. The quarterfinal triumph over Mars, 62-56, is a happy median more representative of their preferred pace of play; to those ends, Cathedral Prep is 12-0 when it gets to 60 points.

The Ramblers possess size: Their three leading scorers are forwards measuring between 6-1 and 6-4. Senior Matt Colpoys is the orchestrator, leading the team in scoring (13.3 ppg) and assists (3.0 per game). Joe Fustine, a 6-3 senior, and Charlie Fessler, a 6-4 senior, provide post offense, combining to average 20.8 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. Junior guard Carter Cross also averages 7.0 ppg.

That gives the Ramblers a wide and varied arsenal to throw at the Patriots. That has Carroll preparing for all eventualities.

“It does take a lot of preparation,’ Beatty said. “We went over five different zones. We’re just kind of used to them now. We were kind of surprised in the beginning of the season, but we’re used to it now.’

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