Boys Basketball: Bernard lifts Titans
Dec 28, 2012 (Menafn - The Frederick News-Post - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Long before he transferred from basketball powerhouse Montrose Christian to Tuscarora, Carney Bernard was a 5-year-old playing his first basketball game.
Decked out in a headband and armbands, he was dressed for success, but he immediately found himself forced to cope with failure.
"We lost. We got smacked, actually," Bernard said. "And the referee came up to me after the game because I was crying, and he told me just keep on working hard, and one day, I could be good."
Judging by how he played Thursday, it looks like Bernard followed that referee's blueprint.
Providing a lift for a Titans that was missing injured star Lamell Washington, Bernard had a season-high 23 points to help host Tuscarora pull out a 55-53 win over Northwood in the nightcap of the Frederick-Montgomery Challenge.
Frederick fell to Quince Orchard, 83-49, in the mixer's first game.
Tuscarora (6-0) remained unbeaten despite the absence of Washington, a returning All-Area first-teamer who was sidelined with a thumb injury.
"He's out for a couple weeks," Titans coach Pat Cook said. "This could help us. It defines roles and we get to see who can step in and fill those rolls and fill a void because it's a big void."
Bernard did his part Thursday. The 6-foot-2 senior guard erupted for 21 points in the first half, helping stake the Titans to a 34-24 lead that held up despite Northwood's late comeback threat in the final minutes.
Bernard nailed long jumpers, hit three 3-pointers, and scored on hard-driving layups.
The Gladiators focused on containing Bernard in the second half. When he got open and nailed a jumper to give the Titans a 45-40 lead early in the fourth quarter, Northwood coach Tony Dickens yelled to one of his players, "I just said stay with him!"
"Carney's had some good moments this year," Cook said. "He's our third-leading scorer and he can flat-out stroke it. He probably goes for 40 tonight (if he doesn't) have five or six go in and out in the second half."
Bernard spent the last three years at Montrose Christian on a team that faces some of the top high school players in the nation.
"I didn't play that much, it's a big-level program," said Bernard, who nonetheless benefited from being in such a program. "It really taught me to work hard."
Before Thursday's game, when some players might consider taking it easy to conserve energy, Bernard did a game-speed workout that included ballhandling.
He learned the importance of hustling on defense at Montrose, and he drew a couple charges against the Gladiators. While his new team doesn't face powers like Oak Hill, Bernard's been impressed.
"It's not like playing against Sisters of the Poor; there are some really good players," he said. "It's still tough and I'm starting to realize that."
Bernard isn't a stranger to some of his new Tuscarora teammates -- he already knew Titans like Kwa McDonald and Bryan Ingram while he was growing up. He did have to adjust to attending a bigger school -- he figured he had just 15 students in his class at Montrose.
"It's been a fun experience," Bernard said. "But at the same time, I just want a state championship, that's what I really want. I want to go to Comcast (Center)."
He watched Tuscarora play Frederick in the last year's playoffs, when the Titans were making a run to the state tournament for the first time in program history.
"The environment was just ridiculous," he said.
The Titans were forced to sweat out this win in the final minutes, and the left-handed shooting McDonald helped them hold on by hitting four of six free throws in the final 47 seconds.
After Northwood's Abass Bundu hit a layup to cut Tuscarora's lead to 54-53 with 4.7 seconds left, Washington was fouled and hit the front end of a one-and-one to make it 55-53. While Northwood grabbed the rebound on Washington's ensuing missed foul shot, one of the Gladiators dribbled out of bounds while bringing the ball up court, foiling any chance of another shot.
Brison Hopper had four assists for Tuscarora, and Marcus Anderson had three steals. Joseph Finley had six rebounds, and Chris Abernathy hit a pair of big baskets in the fourth quarter.
In the early game for Frederick (2-4), Justin Walker and Jonathan King each had 13 points.
In tonight's action at Tuscarora, Frederick faces Northwood at 6 p.m. and the Titans play Quince Orchard in the late game.
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