ALBANY -- Ramello Carter took it personally.
That's what he said. That's how he felt.
He was out to make a point Tuesday night and he did with, well, 30 of them. That's what Carter dropped on Sherwood Christian Academy to end the Eagles' perfect season and help lift Deerfield Windsor to a 78-52 blowout in front of a standing-room-only crowd at DWS.
"They had been talking trash, mostly on Facebook,'' said Carter of Sherwood. "It was kind of personal for me. We had to come out and prove something to the city. A lot of people doubted us. They thought we would lose.''
Why not? Sherwood was unbeaten at 13-0, and the Eagles, who had moved back up from Class GISA AA to Class AAA this season, appeared to be a new force.
But as one DWS fan said after the game: "Welcome to AAA.''
It was a rude welcoming.
But Sherwood (13-1 overall, 2-1 in Region 1-AAA) was playing short-handed. M.J. Vangure was out with a knee injury, Terrence Burnette got into foul trouble early and Rashard Davis, who scored 15 points in the first half, finished with 19 points before fouling out with 6:56 left in the game.
"I think we can play with them,'' first-year Sherwood coach Gavin Felix said. "I think there are some things I have to do in practice and some things I have to do differently in the game. With the injury, the foul trouble and my incompetence we lost the game.''
Felix put the loss on his shoulders, saying he should have done a better job coaching, but he didn't want to take anything away from Deerfield.
"They are a very, very good basketball team,'' he said. "They're very disciplined. They box out and they play defense. They beat us. The better team won.''
DWS, the defending state champs, lost everyone except Banks Kinslow and had to wait on eight players from this fall's state championship football team to show up on the basketball court. But as this season is moving into the heart of region play, the Knights look more and more like a contender to win the state title again. They're 9-3 and 3-0 in the region race, and have won four games in a row -- all one-sided blowouts.
Sherwood may never want to see Kinslow again. The DWS quarterback, who throttled the Eagles last fall, had another big night on Tuesday, scoring 20 points and handing out a half dozen assists.
Sherwood had been beating teams with its all-out pressure defense, but Deerfield simply went right at the Eagles all night and the DWS guards, Carter and Kinslow, combined for 50 points (Sherwood scored 52), while hitting 19 of 31 shots from the floor. Most of those were in drives in traffic as DWS simply challenged Sherwood's defense all night.
"Ramello had an awfully good game,'' DWS coach Gordy Gruhl said. "Against the kind of pressure they put on you, you have to have a point guard who can attack. They don't let set up too much. They pressure you. They get up in your face.
"That was one of the big differences. We did a good job attacking their pressure. If you can't handle their pressure, they will beat the brakes off of you. Luckily, we have some guys who can handle the basketball.''
Carter liked the pressure.
"When someone plays aggressive on me, I love it,'' he said "But this game is behind us. We have a lot of games left.''
Carter did a little of everything on the eve of his birthday (he was still just 15 years old on Tuesday), scoring 30, grabbing five rebounds and making six steals. He made 11 of 18 shots for the night and scored 20 of his points in the second half to put this one away. Sherwood was never closer than 13 in the second half.
The Knights took control early when Kinslow's personal six-point run lifted DWS to a 19-10 lead in the first quarter before Davis hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Knights led 37-24 at halftime, thanks in part to a big lift from Zach Cleland, who came off the bench and finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
"Zach did a great job off the bench,'' Gruhl said. "Without his contribution we would not have won the game.''
Sherwood's Patrick Stanford scored 10 points and Burnette and Gary Holloway scored eight each, but Holloway, who was a force inside last year and a big reason the Eagles were 13-0, scored only two points in the second half.
Meanwhile, DWS just kept driving.
"When you play against that kind of pressure you just have to go right at it,'' Kinslow said. "We know we will have to play them again (Jan. 28) and they will make adjustments and we will make adjustments. We know it will be a battle at their place. It will be a much closer game there.''
That's what everyone thought would happen on Tuesday.
DEERFIELD GIRLS 70, SHERWOOD 28:
Miranda Phillips came off the bench and scored 14 of her 16 points in the first quarter Tuesday night as DWS put this one away early with a 17-2 sprint from the gate. The Lady Knights never slowed down. They led, 41-16, at halftime after forcing 23 turnovers, and even though everyone played, it was never close.
Sherwood (3-13 overall, 0-3 Region 1-AAA) can blame Stratford for the rout.
"We were not pleased with the way we played against Stratford on Saturday,'' said DWS coach Ty Kinslow, whose team fell to Stratford, 47-37, in their last game. "We wanted to work on some things, and we did. We played better defense and we played better team ball. The girls really did a good job, especially defensively.''
DWS (10-4, 3-0) had three players in double figures as Sabrina Curry and Courtney Kelson each scored 11 points.
Sherwood was led Kaylee Dixon, who scored 12 points.