BY RICKY ST. CLAIR
---- — PLATTSBURGH — It’s evident North Country Community College men’s basketball coach Chad LaDue wasn’t joking when he said his team’s arsenal of weapons made it one of the most dangerous in the region.
The Saints (16-8) took advantage of 13 combined 3-pointers from Steven Poulter and Ian Henderson, while Steve Carder added 16 points in a 75-57 defeat of rival Clinton Community College in NJCAA action Wednesday.
“When we hit shots, we’re a good team,” LaDue said. “A lot of it does come from the attention that (Carder) gets in the post, but we’ve got some pretty darn good shooters on our roster as well. They share the basketball and play the game how it’s supposed to be played. Our players don’t worry about who’s getting what.”
Carder, who entered the contest as the team’s leading scorer at 23 points per game, was held to six points in the opening stanza. He credited the play of Clinton’s six-foot-nine-inch Mykelle Krecko of altering his shots, while his team clung to a four-point lead at the break.
“(Krecko) plays very strong defense and is a great shot blocker,” Carder said. “I give him all the credit in the world; he really got me out of my game in the first half. Coach (LaDue) told me at halftime to remain composed and stick to my role in the paint.”
The former Northeastern Clinton standout, however, took advantage of Krecko’s foul trouble during an 11-0 run, extending the lead to 20 with over 12 minutes remaining.
“We had to go small at that point in time,” Cougars coach Kevin Daugherty said. “We were down 20, and it was looking bleak. When (Krecko) was in foul trouble, it took its toll inside. We flat-out got outplayed in all aspects. They handled the ball better than we did, and it wasn’t our night. Unfortunately, it came against our rival and that’s hard to take.”
After hitting five 3-pointers in the first half, Australian native Poulter helped create additional scoring chances en route to his team’s 18-point win.
“I guess the way we distributed the basketball, everyone was contributing,” Poulter said. “I think the fact that we were and sharing it and scoring as well, it gave everybody some confidence and generated momentum.
“That’s the most dangerous facet of our team. There are a number of guys that can step up and hit big shots. Defensively, it makes it difficult for our opponents to put emphasis on just one player.”
Daugherty recognized North Country’s ability to hit shots from the perimeter and stressed to contest them in his game plan.
“We knew they had that kind of firepower, and we just talked about playing everybody to shoot, not allowing any open looks,” Daugherty said. “If anything, it’s a credit to them moving the ball. Our team has played hard every game, but just didn’t quite have it (Wednesday). We were a step slower all night long.”
AuSable Valley graduate Jordan Coolidge paced the Cougars (11-11) in scoring, connecting on five 3-pointers for 15 points. Chris Miller added nine points in the loss.
With the win, the Saints clinched a berth in next month’s Region III Tournament at Jefferson Community College.
Poulter hopes he and his teammates can improve in late-game situations heading into playoff time.
“I thought we did a reasonable job handling pressure (Wednesday), but we need to do a better job closing out games,” Poulter said. “It’s always nice to beat our rival on the road. As we say at home, sometimes you’re the kangaroo and sometimes you’re the tracker. (Wednesday), we were the tracker.”
North Country 75,
North Country (75)
Boyea 3-3-9, Heden 4-0-8, Henderson 5-0-15, Poulter 8-0-24, Brock 1-0-2, Stone 0-1-1, Carder 5-6-16. Totals: 26-10-75.
Krecko 1-0-2, Spencer 3-1-7, Miller 3-1-9, Knight 2-0-6, Davison 1-0-3, Radan 2-0-4, Coolidge 5-0-15, Carter 3-1-8, Campbell 1-1-3. Totals: 21-4-57.
Halftime: North Country, 33-29.
3-point goals: North Country (13): Henderson 5, Poulter 8. Clinton (11): Miller 2, Knight 2, Davison, Coolidge 5, Carter.