Peterson produces right mix for resurgent Carroll Christian First-year coach turns versatility into victories

January 25, 1993|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Contributing Writer

Randy Peterson said he could see during preseason workouts that the Carroll Christian School's boys basketball team had talent. It just needed to be brought out, the first-year coach decided.

That's what has happened. Carroll Christian, 5-18 last year, has blossomed under Peterson and jumped to an 11-4 start -- its best in several years.

Peterson, who compiled a 192-104 record in 11 seasons coaching in Illinois, Tennessee and Michigan, came to Carroll Christian this year as athletic director, basketball and baseball coach. He put into practice here what worked for him in other places.

"I've always preached teamwork and working hard in practice," said Peterson. "Have them prepared for all the different situations. I've always believed in being variable."

The Patriots certainly are more versatile on offense this year. Last year, they had few set plays and ran mostly a motion offense that caused them trouble against quicker opponents.

This year, Peterson installed set offenses for several different situations. Carroll Christian can attack a man-to-man defense, a zone, break a press and do several other things.

"I've always believed in mixing things up," said Peterson. "It makes us tougher to prepare for."

Three starters average in double figures. Shilo Mitchell (13.8 points, 12.5 rebounds per game), Kevin Ash (13.6 ppg), Matthew Greenstreet (11.3) and Matt Good (8.8) lead the way. Ben Lieb (5.8) and Jeff Calafos (4.5) share the fifth starting spot, and Chris Hulver (2.5) also contributes.

Carroll Christian, which plays in the Mason-Dixon Christian Conference, lists five seniors on its roster, several of whom have played together for several years. Greenstreet is one of those, and he credits the combination of experience and Peterson's instruction with helping the Patriots find success.

"He's made us work together as a team," said Greenstreet. "We pass the ball well, we're unselfish. Our experience is really catching up with us."

Their defense also helps. Aided by new defenses installed by Peterson, they're giving up an average of 51.7 points per game while scoring 57.8 through the first 15 games.

The Patriots are winning the close games, too. Five of their first 11 victories were by less than 10 points, and one came after four overtimes.

Success came quickly for Carroll Christian this season. The Patriots jumped to a 6-1 start that proved encouraging.

"It was surprising to get off to a pretty good start," said Ash, a shooting guard. "People started really [believing] we were going to be a pretty good team."

The team's confidence grows along with the victories. Carroll Christian now stands third in the conference and hopes to peak in time for the postseason tournament.

Greenstreet said the Patriots believe they can compete for the conference crown.

"We can play with [the top teams] if everyone's healthy," said Greenstreet, the point guard. "I feel we have a very good chance to win the tournament if everyone's healthy."

Injuries have hurt the Patriots at times this year. Mitchell injured his ankle this week and will miss most, if not all, of the remainder of the season. Others also have missed time, but Peterson hopes everyone can return to full speed shortly.

Peterson also would like the program to hit full speed in the next few years. The Patriots hope to have their own gymnasium for the first time next year -- a new one is being constructed now while home games are played at Grace Bible Church in Manchester or Carroll Community College.

Carroll Christian's future looks bright. Though it will lose several important players to graduation, this year's underclassmen and the junior varsity look strong.

Regardless, this year has been an enjoyable one for the Patriots.

"It feels good to win," said Greenstreet. "It's a lot more fun."

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