Carpenter does it all for Eustace boys' basketball

Nathan Carpenter runs the ball down the court during a scrimmage against Pennsauken.

It was business as usual for Bishop Eustace Prep senior Nate Carpenter.

It also was something special.

Carpenter guarded a player who stood five inches taller than him and "outweighed him by 50 pounds," according to Crusaders coach Bob Falconiero.

He grabbed eight rebounds. He dished four assists. He did all the little things - boxing out, making the extra pass, handling the basketball with aplomb against pressure defense - that don't appear in the box score but often make the difference between winning and losing.

"Nate does so much for us," Falconiero said. "He does so many things that people don't see."

That was the typical part of Carpenter's game in Bishop Eustace's 45-44 victory over Camden Tuesday night in a clash of old rivals and Top 5 teams in the Inquirer's Top 25.

The unique part was the season-high 13 points, the decisive drives to the basket for buckets, the three-pointer from the top of the key that kept the Crusaders in contention when the Panthers were about to seize command in the third quarter.

"I never worry about points," Carpenter said. "I only care about whether or not we win the game."

That's boilerplate talk from most players. But Carpenter walks that walk, specializing in everything but scoring for a Bishop Eustace team that has risen to the No. 4 spot in the rankings thanks in large part to his steady, sturdy and unselfish play.

"Nate is the most unselfish player we have on the team," said Bishop Eustace senior Alec DiPietrantonio, whose free throw at the 0:00.3 mark provided the margin of victory on Tuesday night.

Carpenter called the victory "our best team game ever," after the then-No. 5 Crusaders beat the then-No. 3 Panthers in Clarence Turner Gym without leading scorer Jesse Saul, a senior swingman sidelined by an ankle sprain.

The 6-foot Carpenter spent much of Tuesday night's game guarding Camden's leading scorer, burly 6-foot-5 junior forward Myles Thompson.

"We play as a team," Carpenter said after Thompson scored 12 points. "I know I had lots of help. My big man [DiPietrantonio], he had my back."

Falconiero said Carpenter usually guards the opponent's top scorer.

"Nate has been having a great year," Falconiero said. "He does all the little things for us. He'll have five points, six assists, seven rebounds in a typical game, do a great job on defense, handle the ball, whatever we need."

Carpenter, who lives in Westampton in Burlington County, said he's never been concerned with scoring, not even as a young player.

"I've always been a competitor, so I've always tried to do whatever it takes to win," Carpenter said. "But I've never really been a selfish player. Somebody else is hot, I'm going to get them the ball. If I have to guard the other team's biggest player, I'll do that."

Carpenter is a top student whose favorite subject is physics. He is leaning toward attending Stevens Institute in Hoboken, joining former Washington Township star Spencer Cook on the basketball team and studying to become an engineer.

Falconiero said Carpenter's team-first approach to the game has helped set the tone for a Bishop Eustace squad that has won eight in a row, is tied with No. 6 Camden Catholic for first place in the Olympic Conference National Division and looms as a serious contender in Non-Public South A.

"I don't care about stats or anything like that," Carpenter said. "If we come away with the win, that's the only thing that matters.

"I try to do everything I can to help the team. As long as we come away with the win, I'll do whatever it takes."