MIDDLE VILLAGE, N.Y. — Vernon Carey Jr., was a little frustrated, then he decided to do the frustrating.
Carey, who missed most of the third quarter with foul trouble, came out hot in the fourth quarter and finished with 20 points to lead No. 2 University (Fort Lauderdale) to a 75-63 defeat Thursday of No. 5 Shadow Mountain (Phoenix) in the first GEICO High School Nationals quarterfinal.
Carey, at 6-10, was the tallest player on the court, but he picked up a fourth foul after getting his pocket picked early in the third quarter. Fortunately for the Sharks, sophomore Scottie Barnes also had a big game, finishing with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
“I think I was taking it easy in the second and third quarter, so I had to step it up,” Carey said.
Barnes, who at 6-8 was the second-tallest player on the court, said he tried to use his size to give the Sharks more offensive opportunities.
“I was just trying to set the tone down lone,” Barnes said. “I was just trying to make plays for my teammates.”
Junior guard Jovan Blacksher Jr. led Shadow Mountain with 20 points, frequently slashing to the basket.
“They were tall, but when I come off a screen, they were slow on their feet compared to me,” Blacksher said.
Shadow Mountain coach Mike Bibby said he was pleased with his team’s performance against the taller Sharks.
“They’re a tough team,” Bibby said. We gave up a lot of size, but I think we made up with it in our positioning,. I told them not to hang their heads. They played a good game.”
Shadow Mountain came out playing in a trapping zone, but University’s length caused the Matadors problems early. The Sharks led 20-11 in the first quarter as Carey had five points, including a thundering dunk off a fast break.
Shadow Mountain kept up the tempo, however, and went on a 15-4 run in the second quarter and tied the score at 30 on a layup by Jalen Williams and trailed only 34-30 at the half.
“They were just playing tougher than us for a four-minute stretch,” University coach Adrian Sosa said. “We had a lot of live-ball turnovers. I think we had 12 turnovers in the first half and finished with 17. They did a good job packing it in and making it difficult.”
Eventually University’s talent made the difference.
“We scouted them pretty well,” Sosa said. “We have a lot of athletes, a lot of guys with length down low to funnel them to our bigs. Most of all, we just competed. Other than that four-minute stretch in the second quarter. We’re a pretty good defensive team. All in all, I’m very pleased with our defensive effort.”
University (36-1) will play in a semifinal Friday vs. the winner of the Garfield (Seattle)-Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson) quarterfinal. The loss ends the season for the Matadors (25-2).
Follow Jim Halley on Twitter at: @jimhalley