Beyond the Scoreboard: Carver-ing up girls basketball as a freshman

Emily Carver is averaging more than 21 points a game as a 14-year-old freshman for Enka High. (Photo courtesy of Emily Carver){ }

For those who follow youth basketball and those in the Enka sports community, they knew what was coming.

The 25-points per game average, the 43-point outburst, were all part of the middle-school career of Emily Carver.

And for those not in the know, the news exploded in November in just the second varsity game for the 14-year-old freshman.

Carver nailed 10 3-pointers, lighting up Brevard for 42 points as the Enka 5-8 wing introduced herself to WNC girls basketball.

The prodigious production has continued as the teenager has averaged more than 21 points per game while leading the Sugar Jets to an 8-5 record this season.

As the leader of a youth movement that includes no seniors on the roster, Carver is off to a great start on a career full of promise.

“I was nervous at the start of the year because I knew there was a lot of pressure (based) on what I had done in the past,” said Carver, a proud gym rat who grew up around basketball as the daughter of Enka boys coach and athletic director Brian Carver.

“The Brevard game gave me a lot of confidence.”

She followed that up with a 31-point game with eight 3-pointers, and some opposing teams are now greeting her with junk defenses designed specifically to slow her down.

Last week vs. Reynolds, it was a box-and-one, with a player shadowing Carver in a deny man-to-man while the other four played a 2-2 zone.

Carver and her teammates stayed patient and effectively moved the ball around to open shooters.

She took just six shots in the first half and was fouled on three of those attempts.

When the Rockets switched to more man-to-man later in the game, there were a lot of double teams on Carver. The Sugar Jets were nonplussed and won going away, 77-56, with Carver finishing with 16 points while teammate Carly Banks led the way with 24 points.

Even as she was being smothered with attention by the Reynolds defense, her skills were obvious. Carver finished with seven rebounds and six assists, showed a lot of roaming skills and instinct for steals on defense and made a crossover drive on a fast-break that drew “aahs” from the visiting crowd from Fairview.

“In middle school I got (junk defenses) a lot, so I’m used to it. Sometimes they put three people on me,” she said. “I’ve played with my teammates for a long time so they know what to do when teams do that.”

Girls coach Jerrod Boone said that kind of friendship and togetherness has helped stifle any potential problems that might arise from a freshman being the team’s top player.

“These girls grew up together playing with Emily, and she has always been around Enka basketball because of her dad,” said Boone.

“We all understand she is a special player, and she has been a leader of these girls know matter what her age.

“She’s a very unselfish player, in fact sometimes we have to encourage her to shoot more.”

Carver has worked on her game a lot with her dad and a trainer (Anthony Barringer) and is shooting around 50 percent from the floor while canning 38 3-pointers.

“She’s a great kid, very humble and a great student in addition to being a special player,” said Boone.

Having the daughter of the boys coach and AD be the team’s best player could be an issue, but Boone said all is well with the relationships.

“That potentially could be an issue, but Brian doesn’t meddle. He is very supportive of our program, and he was before Emily was on the team,” said Boone.

Boone’s team includes four freshmen, three sophomores and six juniors, and there are high expectations for both Carver and the Sugar Jets.

“We believe we are building something here, and with a player like Emily the sky is the limit,” said Boone.

“We’re looking forward to all our players growing together and getting better.”