Twisty road brought Carey to Longwood
Some people get away from life in the city by going to the beach. Tristan Carey got away from the beach by moving to the city.
Then when the big city turned out to be a bit much for Carey’s small-town sensibilities, he packed up and headed for a reverse change of pace from the one that took him from Colonial Beach, Va., to Philadelphia. Now it is true that Farmville, Va., is rather a metropolis as compared to the Northern Neck’s Colonial Beach, but Farmville is no Philly.
Be that as it may, Carey has pronounced himself delighted with his present digs at Longwood University. That in turn should delight the Lancers basketball constituency. Carey can ball.
That undeniable fact was brought back to New River Valley locals recently when Carey and associates made a stop at Radford to do basketball battle with the Big South Conference rival Highlanders at the Dedmon Center.
Three-win Longwood, a recent conference enlistee, was overmatched from the get-go and got pounded by the fast-improving Highlanders. As Vin Scully would say, if it had been a fight they would have stopped it. Carey, who scored 23 points, including his team’s first 14 of the second half, was all that stood between Longwood and a slasher-movie-style splattering.
It was good to see him, though. The last time these eyes bore witness to his talent was in the 2009 Group A Division 1 title game between previously unheralded Colonial Beach and similarly anonymous Eastern Montgomery. Neither one of them had ever won a state athletics championship, but that didn’t stop the two small schools from staging an absolute classic.
With Mustangs standout Shawn Christian having an off night with five points, the Mustangs were carried by seniors Henry Hall, Julian Stewart and Brad Wooten. Hall played the game of his life with five of EastMont’s 13 3-pointers and 21 points. Stewart did a little bit of everything on the way to 18 points, and point guard Wooten probably assisted on at least half the Mustangs’ 25 field goals.
It wasn’t enough, though, because Colonial Beach had Carey, then a 6-foot-4 inside player known as T.T. Carey. He scored 37 points. The guy made just about every clutch shot, and try as they might, the thin and foul-troubled Mustangs just couldn’t do anything with him. What a performance.
That left Carey with 2,481 career points, which would have put him at No. 3 on the all-time scoring list in Virginia if Colonial Beach had only played a full VHSL schedule, which it did not until late in his career. For that same reason, his coach Steve Swope’s 500-plus career victories aren’t listed among the VHSL coaching leaders.
Carey’s scoring in perspective: It was more than Scottie Reynolds, Terry Kirby, Kevin Madden, Bryant Stith, J.J. Redick, Mike Porter, Kendrick Warren, Moses Malone, Alonzo Mourning, Grant Hill, Daris Nichols and Frank Mason.
Speaking of Coach Swope, retired as a basketball coach but still the school’s athletic director, “colorful” doesn’t begin to cover the description. At the title game against EastMont, Swope looked like a man forwho had been running for three days and nights straight with no sleep and perhaps only a handful of peeled shrimp to eat.
That was before the game even started.
While it was going on, the shirt tail became completely untucked, tie loosened four buttons down from his collar, lunatic hair style having apparently never known a comb and going in every direction.
The man coached like he’d been lit up after splashing into a pod of jellyfish. It was his last game.
“He’s great,” Carey said the other night. “He’s a guy who lifts spirits wherever he was. He’s emotional after games win or lose. He’s just that kind of person who brings you up.”
With a player like Carey on the roster, it’s no wonder Swope enjoyed his work.
By the way, in case you’ve never been there, Colonial Beach is down the Potomac River arm of Chesapeake Bay from Quantico and a clam shell’s throw from the Maryland state line. Carey says he only gets back there occasionally to take care of business.
In any event, when he graduated high school, he signed with LaSalle. For one reason or another, he wasn’t happy in Philly. Longwood had recruited him in high school, and the second look proved the charm.
These days, he leads the Lancers in scoring (14.8 ppg), 3-pointers (45) and steals (39) and is third in rebounding (5.1 rpg).
“Good player,” Lancers coach Mike Gillian said. “After he sat out after transferring from LaSalle, he played last year, but now he’s in a different role. We need for him to score points, to rebound, to defend better, we need him to lead, we need for him to do a lot. That takes a lot of energy, a lot of mental energy. When you have to do it for long periods of time, it’s tough.
“He’s growing into that.”
They’re fond of Carey; he’s happy with Longwood.
“It’s just like home,” he said. “I’m from an area just like it, a small town. That’s what I’m used to. I like it.”
The Roanoke Times | 381-1672
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