Mount Carmel guard DeAndre Craig is a name the entire city will eventually know. Last year’s short season has resulted in the junior still being an overlooked force.
He’s the kind of lead guard that elevates an entire team. He’s much more than just a reliable scorer and ball-handler.
“Right now I feel like I’m the best in the state,” Craig said. “That’s just my confidence. I put in the work to get where I am. I’m not too big on rankings because that doesn’t determine the player. It’s the work ethic, what you do on the court and how you do in school.”
Craig had 21 points and six rebounds in the No. 17 Caravan’s 63-60 win at De La Salle on Tuesday.
“DeAndre is our glue,” Mount Carmel coach Phil Segroves said. “He tries to get other guys involved but he realizes when there is a pressure situation and we need him to score that he has to find the open look for himself.”
The Meteors are taller and more talented than Mount Carmel man for man, but the Caravan made the extra pass and clearly was more comfortable as a team.
“We’ve done a lot of team bonding, just getting closer together,” Mount Carmel junior Anthony Ciaravino said. “That makes it easier to play together. We knew they were going to be longer, taller and more athletic. We had to come out wanting in more and playing with more hustle.”
Ciaravino’s younger brother Angelo, a 6-4 sophomore, made two free throws with 1.5 seconds left to seal the win.
“I knew he was going to make them,” Anthony Ciaravino said. “We work on it every day in practice putting up hundreds of shots.”
Elijah Jointer had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Caravan (7-0, 2-0 Catholic League). The 6-5 senior had his hands full with De La Salle’s 6-6 Evan Jackson (four points, seven rebounds), 6-8 Marcelius Cohen (four points, 10 rebounds) both crashing the glass.
De La Salle senior DJ Bates was a revelation. He is the senior version of Craig, an unheralded, dominant lead guard. Bates finished with 27 points and six rebounds. He created havoc defensively and is a leaper that can score in the post.
“He’s one of the best guards in the Catholic League and the state,” Meteors coach Gary DeCesare said. “He’s fantastic going downhill and when he wants to guard he’s a great defender.”
De La Salle (2-5, 0-2) only played a handful of games last season, so it is no surprise that they are behind Mount Carmel as a team at this point. DeCesare, the longtime coach at St. Rita, took over the program in the summer.
“We are still learning how to win,” DeCesare said. “We are changing the whole culture here. Baby steps. If they all lock in we could make some noise.”
Sophomore Michael Davis was also a standout for De La Salle, finishing with 15 points and seven rebounds.
“We’ve been very unselfish through seven games,” Segroves said. “We don’t have a guy as tall as some of theirs but Angelo Ciaravino came up with some real big boards that gave us second and third opportunities.”
Angelo Ciaravino finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for Mount Carmel.