NORTH ANSON — The pre-game mission statement is clear: Unified basketball was created with the idea that no single player should dominate on a court in which inclusion, teamwork and camaraderie are front and center.
Roger Pickard never got that memo.
The Carrabec/Madison guard scored a career-high 25 points, including a key bucket with 30 seconds remaining, helping to lift the No. 2 Cobras to a 52-47 win over No. 7 Oceanside in a North regional quarterfinal Wednesday afternoon.
“I go back with Roger to the Madison basketball courts,” Carrabec/Madison head coach John Vartanian said. “He played (basketball) when he was younger, and I went down there a lot and actually played with him. I knew he had a lot of potential coming in. I think he just had to get comfortable with playing the game, and he showed it right here.”
Pickard added five assists, three blocks and three steals to his stat line. He had a premonition that it was going to be a big day for him.
“I told my teacher that I was going to go as hard as I could and I didn’t really care if I knocked down people,” said Pickard, a sophomore at Madison. “It was really, really fun.”
Pickard scored the first 13 points of the day for the Cobras (5-2), including stepping out to hit a deep 3-pointer from the left wing that made it a 14-13 game and stemmed an early Oceanside (3-4) run. He scored 17 of his 25 points in the first half alone.
Though he slowed his scoring output after halftime, Pickard still found a way to impact the game. He showed off his dribbling skills with a crossover between his legs and a behind-the-back change of direction, and he also found an open teammate with a behind-the-back pass.
When Oceanside rallied to take a 45-44 lead with 2:09 remaining, Pickard found Dalton Way (13 points) in the paint for the go-ahead basket just 17 seconds later.
Off an in-bounds steal on one of the Mariners’ final possessions, Pickard drove the baseline to the right and laid it in to make it 50-47 with 30 seconds remaining that all but sealed the Cobras’ victory. A desperation 3-pointer for Oceanside wouldn’t fall, and Way capped things off with a buzzer-beater to account for the final score.
Peter Mouland added eight points in the win. For Oceanside, the tandem of Isaiah Jones and Nick Colson finished with 20 points and 18 points, respectively.
“I wanted to see these kids have some fun,” Vartanian said. “Last year we went to the playoffs, lost, but everyone had a great time. This year, everyone’s starting to feel it, so it’s going really well.”
No one, perhaps, was feeling it more than Pickard.
“I don’t know, probably when I was around 5,” Pickard said of when he first started playing basketball. “(Winning in the playoffs) feels really good.”
“It makes me feel better to see somebody like him have the best game of their life than have somebody like me go out and make a ton of threes in a game,” said Nick Dube, a sophomore at Carrabec, who helps at practices and officiates games as a partner student. “It gets him into the gym. He gets to work with everyone. It lets him work with people as a team. He gets to pass to other people and, the look in his eyes after he gets those assists is amazing.”
As good as Pickard was on Wednesday, in what Vartanian called the best game of his season “by far,” are there any fears that his game is so well-rounded Madison varsity boys basketball coach Jason Furbush might pluck him for his program down the road?
“I’ve had those thoughts before,” Vartanian said with a smile. “But I think he’s going to be sticking with us for a little while, hopefully.”
Travis Barrett — 621-5621