MARION — About six years ago, an exquisite left-handed point guard with one of the sweetest games you’ll ever see wowed Linn-Mar High School and everyone else in this town and state.
Saturday afternoon, an exquisite left-handed point guard with one of the sweetest games you’ll ever see did the same thing. Only against Linn-Mar.
It was D.J. Carton doing five-star things for Bettendorf in its 67-64 win at the Lions gym. The Ohio State signee netted a career-high 36 points and added a key blocked shot in the final seconds of a sublime season opener.
This performance reminded you so very much of Marcus Paige, who starred at Linn-Mar and North Carolina, got a cup of coffee in the NBA and is playing professionally now in Europe.
“I actually watched him in seventh grade play against my cousins (at Bettendorf),” Carton said. “I remember he dropped like 33 (points) or something like that. It’s always fun, a lefty point guard and everything. He was really fun to watch back in the day, especially at North Carolina and stuff. I definitely looked up to him and am trying to follow in his footsteps.”
“He’s special,” said Linn-Mar Coach Chris Robertson. “It’s what I told our guys after the game, ‘You’re not going to play another guy like that.’ Sometimes you’ve just got to tip your hat. He’s an incredible player, a lot of similarities to Marcus in the way he handles it.”
When comparing them, the general consensus is Paige was the better shooter, while Carton has the edge in athleticism. In the second half, Carton had one drive through the lane that ended with a lefty dunk and another drive baseline that ended the same way.
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He had an assist on a 3-pointer by Carter Furness that gave Bettendorf its first lead of 57-56 with six minutes to go. Linn-Mar led by eight at halftime, 40-32, and by as many as 11 in the second half.
“Up to this point, we had a couple of scrimmages where we shot the ball really well, so the score wasn’t necessarily what we were looking for as a coaching staff,” said Bettendorf Coach Curtis Clark. “I just told them at halftime ‘We missed shots in the first half, and then we defended like we have all season.’ You give up 40 points in a half and dig yourself a hole against a tough team on the road, now we’re going to find out what kind of team we have. It’s a credit to them. They dug in and showed a lot of grit.”
Trey Hutcheson and Greg Hall led Linn-Mar with 19 points apiece. Hall had 15 in the first half, Hutcheson 10 in the second.
Down three in the final 20 seconds, the Lions forced a turnover near midcourt, with Hutcheson taking an ensuing pass and going in for what appeared to be a layup, only to have Carton seem to come from nowhere and block the attempt. Carton then missed a one-and-one free throw, giving Linn-Mar one last shot to tie it.
After a timeout with eight seconds left, Hutcheson got a pretty decent look at a 3-pointer from the top of the arc that didn’t fall.
“The way that we came out and played really well, the way that we led pretty much the whole game until three or four minutes left when they kind of took over (is disappointing),” said Hutcheson, a signee of Division-I Albany (N.Y.). “But in early season games, sometimes things happen. We played a good team, so the more we learn from it, it’s not a huge deal to lose game one.”
BETTENDORF (67): Oliver Bakeris 2-6 0-1 4, Lucas Hayes 3-4 1-2 7, Trevor Feller 1-4 0-0 2, Blake Tyler 4-6 2-2 12, D.J. Carton 13-24 9-12 36, Tyler Wellman 0-1 0-0 0, Joseph Byrne 1-1 0-0 2, Tynan Numkena 0-0 0-0 0, Carter Furness 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 25-49 12-17 64.
LINN-MAR (64): Hayden Passmore 4-4 2-2 10, Trey Hutcheson 7-13 4-7 19, Jaren Nelson 2-6 2-2 6, Greg Hall 7-12 2-3 19, John Steffen 2-9 0-1 4, Brady Klahn 1-3 2-2 4, James Nelson 1-1 0-1 2, Will Zahradnik 0-0 0-0 0, Tyler Oberbroeckling 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-48 12-18 67.
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Halftime — Linn-Mar 40, Bettendorf 32. 3-point goals — Bettendorf 5-21 (Feller 1-3, Tyler 2-3, Carton 1-9, Wellman 0-1, Furness 1-3), Linn-Mar 4-16 (Hutcheson 1-3, Jar. Nelson 0-3, Hall 3-6, Steffen 0-2, Klahn 0-2). Rebounds — Bettendorf 34 (Carton 8), Linn-Mar 21 (Passmore, Hutcheson, Steffen 5). Total fouls — Bettendorf 18, Linn-Mar 18. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Bettendorf 13, Linn-Mar 9.
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