Senior guard Dan Mullen of South Carroll, shown in a 2011 photo,…
The South Carroll boys basketball team takes few secrets to the hardwood. The Cavaliers' clear priority is playing strong team defense and boxing out for rebounds, and they're confident all the other stuff will work out.
The formula worked again Friday night against Century, as South Carroll wrapped up a second straight Carroll County championship with a dominating 57-31 home win in Winfield.
Junior center Gavin McTavish scored 19 points, and senior guards Dan Mullen and Ethan McBryde each added 10 as the Cavaliers improved to 17-4 overall and 13-1 in county play.
Century (16-4, 11-3) had a chance to grab a share of the county crown with a victory, but it was clear from the start it wasn't going to happen.
South Carroll led from start to finish, limiting the Knights to just one shot on most trips, and pulling away with a dominating third quarter.
Last year, the Cavaliers were clear favorites to win the county championship with a veteran team led by all-time leading scorer Ryan McTavish. This year, they entered with more questions, but they found answers with their sound defense again leading the way.
"We didn't want to split [the county title], especially playing at home," South Carroll coach Doug Goff said. "We came in and we got a chance to outright win it at a home game, and that's a game that if you talk to the senior Dan Mullen, it's like 'Hey this is the kind of game we have to win' They were pretty pumped up, and they gave all their heart out there today and they deserved it."
After taking a 24-16 lead into halftime, McBryde set the tone for the third quarter with a 3-pointer on the Cavaliers' opening possession. He finished with eight points in the quarter, and McTavish added two baskets to help South Carroll take a 40-22 advantage into the fourth quarter.
The Knights, who got 10 points from Michael Austin, got a 3-pointer from Billy Dickman with 5:20 left in the third quarter and would only make one more basket from the field the rest of the way.
"It's nice to get a county championship two years in a row," said Gavin McTavish, Ryan's younger brother. "After losing a bunch of players from last year, [it was nice] to come back and play tough. We knew tonight was going to be a good game, Century is a real good team. So we just came out with our defense, which is pretty much what our team revolves around. We played real good defense and they couldn't get around it."
The smaller and less athletic team, Century had to count on its perimeter shooting to have a chance. But, like in the team's first meeting at Century — a 52-30 win for the Cavaliers on Jan. 13 — the Knights couldn't find the mark.
"Unlike the last time, I thought we did a better job of getting good shots, but we just didn't knock them down," Century coach George Wunder said. "They're a good defensive team. They contest threes well, and they board extremely well. When you're not going to get any offensive boards, you just have to shoot better than we did tonight."