Senior DeAndre Craig has led Mount Carmel’s basketball revival over the past few years. The high-scoring guard elevated the Caravan’s profile and made them a fixture in the Super 25.
Craig led Mount Carmel to the Pekin Holiday Tournament championship last season and was the event’s MVP.
Expectations are high this year, but the Caravan isn’t going to need Craig to score 20 points in every game this season.
“A little pressure has definitely been taken off me,” Craig said. “Our whole team can score.”
Junior Angelo Ciaravino emerged as a scoring threat last season and is now an even bigger threat. He scored 26 points to lead the Caravan to a 72-48 win against North Lawndale on Saturday in the Chicago Elite Classic at Credit Union One Arena.
“We prepared really well for this game,” Ciaravino said. “We were focused in practice and paid attention to the little details that hurt us in the Oak Lawn loss.”
The upset loss to Oak Lawn last week knocked Mount Carmel (5-1) out of the top ten.
“People were questioning if we were really that good after the loss,” Craig said. “We aren’t worried about that. We’re focused on getting better.”
Craig scored 20 against the Phoenix and Lee Marks, a 6-5 transfer from Homewood-Flossmoor, added 17 points and 13 rebounds. Marks is athletic and aggressive and adds another dimension to the Caravan’s attack.
“We really had a chance to refocus this week and get back to basics like taking care of the ball,” Mount Carmel coach Phil Segroves said. “[North Lawndale] turned on the pressure late in the game and we did a good job.”
North Lawndale (1-2) cut the Caravan’s lead to nine after turning on the defensive pressure early in the fourth quarter. But Mount Carmel responded with a 20-3 run.
“We played as a unit in this game,” Craig said. “We are still working on our teamwork. It’s not top-notch but this is the best game we’ve played together. That was the biggest factor, relying on the man behind you.”
Segroves expects to pick up a major addition next week. Senior Asher Tomaszewski is returning from a football injury.
“Asher is a 6-5, 250 pound lineman committed to Kansas State,” Craig said. “He’ll bring what we need, another big body that can set screens and rebound.”
Senior guard Jemarje Windfield led the Phoenix with 18 points and junior Davarus Spann added 10.