Lawless scores 48 to power Mikes’ victory
Bentworth's Damon Petrola-Bakos shoots during the fourth quarter while Carmichaels' Cory Fuller and Brennen McMinn guard.
CARMICHAELS – It did not matter what Bentworth did to stop Carmichaels senior Brandon Lawless Monday night.
Whether he was double-teamed by two opposing defenders or left wide open, Lawless could not miss.
The Mikes’ leading scorer from last year was dominant Monday night, scoring a career-high 48 points to lead Carmichaels past Bentworth, 80-43, in a non-section game.
“He was pretty much unstoppable,” Bentworth head coach Bob Kennedy said. “From inside, outside, it didn’t matter what he was doing. He’s a great player.”
The Mikes (4-0) did not take long to take advantage of their advantage in size and experience with Lawless leading the way against a young Section 5-AA opponent. The Bearcats only have one senior on their roster and none in their starting lineup. Behind the play of Lawless, Carmichaels jumped out to a 14-0 run in the first 6:40 of the first quarter. The Bearcats did not register a point until 2:30 remaining in the quarter.
Lawless had eight three-point field goals Monday night, a part of his game he hoped to improve on following a successful 2012 season for Carmichaels. Lawless led the Mikes to a 17-5 overall finish and a 7-3 record in Section 3-A to place second behind Clairton, who finished undefeated in section play.
The second quarter was much of the same with Lawless continuing his offensive dominance against Bentworth (0-1, 0-3). The 6-4 senior scored 17 points in the quarter, including two three-pointers where the Bearcats left Lawless wide open. He made it look easy using his physical play to dominate in the lane.
The performance from Lawless is a continuance of his play from last season when he averaged 21 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
“I wanted to work on my outside shooting and I definitely think I am improving overall,” Lawless said.
Lawless saw the first four games of the Mikes’ season being a success.
With the Mikes returning a group of seven seniors who have been playing together on the varsity boys basketball team since their sophomore year, Lawless believed Carmichaels’ chemistry would separate them from the competition and that experience would show.
On the other hand, Kennedy is not surprised of his team’s early-season struggles. The Bearcats graduated their top two scorers last season, Chris Blackburn and Cody Levine, and only have one senior on their roster. Bentworth was led Monday night by Damon Petrola-Bakos, a sophomore guard, who scored 17 points for the young Bearcats.
The Bearcats tried putting two players on Lawless at time but with no success. The senior had 27 points in the first half as Carmichaels finished the half on a 12-2 run in the closing 1:38. Lawless started the second-half with an easy laying on a fast break and followed it with three shots from behind the arc in the following six minutes.
“I thought we played pretty well offensively and stayed in front of them on defense and that is what we told them to do,” Carmichaels head coach Don Williams said. “We made it difficult for them to shoot. Brandon had a phenomenal game and he is capable of that. He got hot and when he’s hot, we are going to do well.”
Along with Lawless, senior Ty Aeschbacher tallied 13 points and senior Justin Newman added eight points for the Mikes. The Mikes started the fourth quarter leading 67-32 and back-to-back lay ups for Lawless increased the lead. At 4:38 into the fourth quarter, Aeschbacher’s lay up on a fast break clinched the 40-point lead and the mercy rule for the Mikes.
Bentworth called a timeout on the ensuing possession and Carmichaels finished out the game without a senior on the court.
The win continues an unbeaten season for the Mikes, who will look to build off the performance Wednesday night with a home game against Jefferson-Morgan at 7:30 p.m. The meeting is the second of the season for the two teams after Carmichaels defeated the Rockets, 37-30 at the Jefferson-Morgan Tournament on Dec. 7.
“We started with this group when they were sophomores and struggled a bit then we improved last year,” Williams said. “Hopefully we get a little better this year.”