Carmen’s Crew had no trouble reminding the sea of Buckeyes gear-clad fans at Capital University's Capital Center why their players were once Ohio State favorites.
The team of former Buckeyes standouts took care of business Saturday afternoon behind an electric third quarter, punching their ticket to a date in The Big Tournament regional championship game with an 89-75 victory over Big X.
“I thought we played great,” coach Dallas Lauderdale said. “We showed some resiliency, showed some toughness. The first five or six minutes we came out a little rocky, had some turnovers, but we improved, and that’s what you want to do in a ball game. … Only having three turnovers in the second half, I think that was the name of the game.”
Carmen’s Crew was able to overcome a few of its own kin, with former Buckeyes Keyshawn Woods and C.J. Jackson headlining Big X.
“It’s a lot of fun to play against C.J. and Key,” point guard Aaron Craft said. “To be able to compete against them at a high level on TV, it doesn’t get much better than that.”
The two teams traded points and possessions early on, with the score tied at 20 after one quarter.
“You always want to come out early and make a statement out there,” Carmen's Crew forward Jeff Gibbs said. “For us, in the first quarter, we had a little mental lapse and a few turnovers, but we got the game going after that.”
Carmen’s Crew looked similarly flat to start the second, but a dunk by Jon Diebler shifted the momentum, and a 7-0 run in the final 1:13 of the half — capped by a David Lighty three-point play — carried the Crew into the half with a 43-42 lead.
Carmen’s Crew found their stride once more in the third. Fueled by an Evan Ravenel three-point play, Carmen's Crew used a 12-2 run to take a 59-49 lead. Big X was also hurt by a 2:37 scoring drought to close the quarter and trailed 69-60 entering the fourth.
Carmen’s Crew quickly expanded its lead to 14, a comfortable buffer it maintained as the fourth wore on.
In the regional title game, Carmen's Crew will face Red Scare, a team of Dayton alumni.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” said William Buford, who led the way with 24 points. “(Sunday) isn’t a championship game for us. It’s just another game, and we’re just trying to get closer to our goal.”