PICTURED ABOVE: Dan McKeeman
Last year was a landmark season for Carroll, and not just because of its third 20-plus win season in the last four years.
For the first time in program history, the Chargers were crowned SAC regular season champions, beating rival Homestead in mid-February to clinch.
With its two leading scorers back in seniors Dan McKeeman (12.2 points per game) and David Ejah (11.2 ppg), Carroll is primed to once again be a contender in the league and be a threat to surpass 20 victories once again. But it will need some new faces to step up.
“It is good to have (Dan and David) back, but we lost a lot to graduation,” Carroll coach Marty Beasley said. “We have a lot of young guys. New guys. We will need some time.”
Senior Preston Shearer will be looked upon to step up after coming off the bench last season and will be one of the tallest players the Chargers will put out on the floor at 6-foot-3. Juniors Richard Gross and Ray Vollmer are also expected to be more in the rotation this year after seeing little action last year.
Up from the freshman team is sophomore Sam Strycker, who at 6-3 gives Carroll more length.
Senior Luke Relue will also see action.
There is a lot to replace for the Chargers with the likes of Riley Perlich, Reece Swoverland, Arius Jones and Nathan Fish gone to graduation. With an early start to the season on Tuesday against South Bend Adams followed by a visit Saturday from Penn, Carroll will have to learn on the fly.
“We obviously have to defend, rebound and take care of the basketball,” Beasley said. “We lost a lot of perimeter shooters from last year.”
Carroll has been one of the winningest programs in the area over the last several years, despite roster turnover from graduation and a few transfers. It seems like no matter what the lineup looks like, Beasley is able to coach it to around 20 victories and is a contender in the SAC and the postseason.
With so many unproven players, it may take a month or two for the Chargers to start firing on all cylinders. But with McKeeman and Ejah, this team has a duo that will keep them in a fair amount of early games while the new guys find themselves.
WHY NOT HIGHER?
The graduation of Arius Jones was probably the biggest loss for the program. Jones was one of the better point guards in the area and was a proven scorer and facilitator. Beasley says the trio of McKeeman, Gross and Vollmer will hold down the point guard spot as the season begins.
Unfamiliarity reigns with Carroll entering the year. That doesn’t mean the Chargers are going to regress, but simply we may have to be patient to see how this team develops.
JAN. 25 AT SNIDER
Coach Jeremy Rauch has his Panthers loaded for a run at the SAC title, but the defending champs will definitely have a say. This could potentially be the second matchup between these two squads if the SAC Holiday Tournament delivers. This is the one that means a lot more. In the thick of winter, which league stud will emerge with a victory?