2008-03-07 / Sports

Carman Knows Title Hopes Require Sense of Urgency

By Elio Velez

When the calendar flipped to March last week, Kelly Carman knew that this month would be a crucial time in her high school basketball career.

The Mary Louis Academy starting center is all too familiar with the pressure that goes with her team, which is one of the best CHSAA squads in the city. As a junior last March, Carman experienced thrills of victory when her Hilltoppers won the New York State Federation Class A title over John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx.

Carman is back in the playoffs and she would like to win at least one more title with the Hilltoppers before she graduates.

Mary Louis earned the #3 seed in the Brooklyn/ Queens Diocesan Tournament and they were expected to cruise to a victory in the quarterfinals over winless St. Francis Prep last Tuesday at Christ the King High School.

To Carman's dismay, St. Francis Prep was ready to play and wasn't going to lay down as they gained a six point lead in the second quarter.

Once the Mary Louis started reentered the game in the second quarter, she stepped on the floor with energy, scoring 7 of her team high 11 points.

Mary Louis had awaken from their slumber as the Hilltoppers had secured a 65-59 victory to advance to the semifinals at presstime against #2 seed Archbishop Molloy.

What Carman and her teammates realized, was that they didn't want to end their season without making some noise. Freshman point guard Kelly Robinson led with 19 points and Amanda Burakoski added 13 points for Mary Louis.

"I guess we kind of walked out on the court thinking we had the game and we didn't try as hard as we should have," Carman said after the game.

"When we were down six and I looked at the scoreboard, I realized we were losing. Next time I went in. I said, 'We can't lose, we're not allowed to.'"

Mary Louis is certainly talented enough to win the Diocesan title. Burakoski committed as a junior to St. John's University. With a lot of young talent arriving this season, expectations were heightened for the team this season.

Mary Louis has played a tough nonconference schedule but they aren't the top seed in the Diocesan tournament. Christ the King has the #1 seed and Archbishop Molloy, which beat the Hilltoppers on February 27, has the #2 seed.

Carman knows that if they lose to Molloy, then the season will most certainly end. That is why she was vocal on the floor against St. Francis Prep, because she wanted to push her team.

She believes her team got the message that they have to adopt a sense of urgency that may give them enough energy to beat their Queens rivals.

"I guess I kind of realized my career was over. There is no time to wait and sit back and wait for someone else to do it," said Carman, whose sister Tiffanie was a freshman on the Baruch College team which won the CUNY city title in February.

"I know that we can't walk in and expect us to win. We can't win with one or two people. If that happens, and they get shutdown, then no one else will help us win."

She even postponed a scholarship competition at Lynchburg College, which would have taken place this Wednesday.

Carman is confident that her team will still be competing in the CHSAA state title tournament on that day.

What she doesn't want is to have plenty of time to choose a college because her team is eliminated.

"Right now I'm excited but I'm really nervous. There is always that one little chance. That doubting feeling that we won't win and I don't want that to happen."

If Mary Louis defeats Molloy, then they could have a rematch in the Diocesan title game with Christ the King or against Bishop Ford on Sunday at 6 p.m. at St. John's Prep in Astoria.

The Royals won in the 2007 Diocesan title game.

The winner of the title game will represent Brooklyn/Queens in the CHSAA Class AA state tournament. The losing team will become the Class A representative, which will play against the Archdiocese of New York team on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at the College of Staten Island.

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