By Jeremy Gerlach
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer
Jaguars tamed in first round of State 2A Playoffs
CUMMINGS 79, Carrboro 56
On Monday, February 20, Carrboro High School basketball coach John Alcox looked at the scoreboard early in the second quarter of a first-round playoff game and found his team trailing Burlington’s Cummings High School by double figures — in large part due to the Cavaliers’ tenacious, full-court pressure.
“[Cummings is] a long, athletic team that likes to press to speed things up,” Alcox says. “I love to play fast, but you can’t turn the ball over against them.”
Yet even after 21 Carrboro turnovers, the Cavalier lead looked precarious as star Jaguar forward Keenan Van Name began to assert himself in the third quarter. Van Name’s versatility on the wing, alongside gritty defense from guard Marlin Johnson and unexpected inside muscle from forward James Scott, had Carrboro fans thinking they had weathered the storm. Then came the rain.
A dozen Cummings 3-pointers — including five icy daggers each from fiery guards Keith McAdoo and Traye Guye — kept the Jaguars at arm’s reach.
The barrage had the entire boisterous Carrboro contingent — who turned out in full force despite the long drive to Burlington — taken aback.
“We played Cummings close [in a tournament] back in December,” says Adela Van Name, Keenan’s mother. “Tonight was just tough to watch.”
“I don’t know how to explain [the 3-point shooting],” says Alcox. “I guess it’s the home gym — people shoot better on the rims that they practice on.”
Home court advantage or no, four Cavaliers — Jamison Jeffers (13), Chris Woods (18), McAdoo (17) and Guye (18) — scored in double figures, compared to only Van Name (19) and Johnson (11) for Carrboro.
While Burlington Cummings advanced to play Trinity in the second round, the season ends for Van Name, the first of who Alcox hopes will be a long tradition of Carrboro stars.
Carrboro’s Van Name finishes a high school career filled with superlatives
Van Name, calm and in good spirits after exiting the locker room for the final time in his high school career, said that he didn’t leave anything on the court.
“We played our game. I played my game,” he says. “I didn’t get to dunk tonight, but that was about the only thing I would have done differently.”
Phil Mendys, father of Jaguar forward Jake Mendys, says that the disappointment shouldn’t outweigh the accomplishments.
“[Carrboro] won 17 games, went to the playoffs, and they won a conference championship,” Mendys says. “But now we also have a pretty tough car ride home.”
Adela Van Name says that watching Keenan, the first player in Carrboro history to score over 1,000 points in a career, play his last game was a tough but rewarding experience.
“[Keenan] has risen so far these last four years,” Van Name says. “I don’t like seeing it end like this, but I’m glad that he’s gotten the opportunity to play the game he loves.”
While Adela VanName says her son is looking forward to playing college basketball — Keenan has yet to decide on a school — he is just another high school senior, focused on making these memories last.
“[Our family] couldn’t have picked a better school than Carrboro,” says VanName. “We don’t get the exposure that [Chapel Hill High School and East Chapel Hill High School] get, especially with Chapel Hill going undefeated this year, but our team is making a name for itself.”
Life after Keenan
While Carrboro’s 2012 finish near the top of the Carolina 12 conference marks an unprecedented rise from the program’s humble beginnings in 2007, Alcox — the coach for all five years — says that departing senior Keenan VanName has been integral to this ascent.
“I’ve got a system in place now, and all that’s left is for the athletes to walk through my doors,” says Alcox. “We are going to have some holes to fill, obviously, but after a short dead period we are getting right back to work in the spring and summer — getting ready to start next year.”
Even without VanName, the shifty 6-foot-6 forward who idolizes the potent Kevin Durant but commits to defense like Jackie Manuel, Alcox is ready for the future.
“The great thing about this game is that you can change your style to fit anyone who plays for you,” Alcox says. “Carrboro ball is going to be fast, it’s going to be big — but ultimately it’s up to the kids… How hard do they want to work?”
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