Daily Egyptian

Terriers present best team in years

By Thomas Donley, @TdonleyDE

The Carbondale High School boys basketball team is passing its chemistry test this season. 

At 20-4 this season and 5-2 in the South Seven Conference, the Terriers are ranked No. 6 in Class 3A by the Illinois Associated Press as of Monday, and a likely lock for the top seed in the Illinois High School Association’s regional at Massac County High School in March.

Four-year starting guard Allen Billinger said the Terriers’ synergy gives them an advantage.

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“We just stay together and trust each other,” Billinger said. “In games and practice, everyone is on the same page.”

Coach Jim Miller coached Carbondale to a fourth-place finish in the state finals in 2004 and second-place finish in 2005. He said this team could be better than those.

“It’s funny because when we were making runs like that, I never thought our teams were very good,” Miller said. “I thought we were decent, but I never thought we were capable of finishing fourth or second until we actually got there.”

Billinger, one of nine seniors on the team’s roster, said the Terriers’ maturity helped them defeat Murphysboro on Feb. 3. The Red Devils jumped out to an early lead, but Carbondale dominated the final three quarters for a 78-53 win.

“We’re experienced, so we had confidence in ourselves,” Billinger said. “We got down, but it was no time to panic. It was the first quarter.”

Forward Jordan Kelly, who has also started four years, said the win against Murphysboro was an example of the Terriers’ resilience and determination.

Miller said the team’s most important characteristic is unselfishness. The Terriers do not have one or two players leading the team in scoring every game.

“That’s the number one ingredient to any championship team,” Miller said. “You have to have tremendous chemistry. You’ve got to have kids who don’t care about who gets the credit.”

Carbondale’s firepower does not come only from its seniors. Freshman forward Darius Beane starts alongside four seniors. Miller said Beane, the son of SIU assistant coach Anthony Beane, Sr. and brother of SIU junior guard Anthony Beane, Jr., has matured into his role as the fifth starter.

“I’ve had several freshmen start, but they started on mediocre or average teams,” Miller said. “When you get a freshman starting on a pretty good team, that speaks well to that freshman. He understands his role, and he’s becoming an impact player for us.”

Carbondale will be grouped with Herrin, Marion, Massac County and Murphysboro high schools in the IHSA’s Massac County Class 3A Regional, which starts March 3.

The Terriers will seek revenge for last year’s 64-63 loss to Marion in the regional championship game. A regional title this year would be Miller’s ninth in 16 years at Carbondale.

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269.

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