FREDERICK — Ever since an early age, Joe Cartelli had a pretty confident sense of what he could do with a basketball in his hand.
“I felt like I could score the ball at an early age,” Cartelli said.
Scoring followed him up the ranks and into his high school days. Cartelli has become the leading scorer for the Frederick Warriors for now a third straight season, starting with his 10.8 points per game he put up as a sophomore. The numbers improved last year to 15.7 points per game, and so far in the 2019-20 season he leads Frederick at 19 per game.
But scoring is not the only thing Cartelli wants people to know about his game.
“My junior year I averaged about 16 points but only averaged three rebounds,” Cartelli said. “Coach (Enoch Miller) and I talked about my rebounding numbers needing to go up. I focused more on that and trying to get in the paint and rebound to make me an all-around player.
“I read some articles on me that said I was just an offensive player. I don’t like hearing that. I wanted to prove everyone wrong and show that I am more than a scorer.”
The early numbers so far have shown a growth in all areas of his game. In addition to scoring more efficiently and in a variety of ways, Cartelli is averaging a career-high 5.7 rebounds per game and throwing out a couple of assists with it.
“He’s made some big strides in that area,” Miller said. “He’s at about six rebounds per game through the first six games and that is at least a 50 percent improvement from last year. He’s also done a great job of passing the ball when he sees the other team’s best defender. Sometimes he’ll get double-teamed and they try to completely deny him, but he’s done a good job adjusting to that.”
That said, Cartelli knows he has to play an important role in the scoring department to help his team each night on the court.
The senior guard has worked tirelessly in the gym getting shots up so he can knock them down, whether it was working with his club team, Colorado Anarchy, or putting in the hours at the rec center in the offseason. With more confidence in his shot, he has been willing to shoot more from behind the arc and expand his length. This year, the progression of getting to the free throw line on a consistent basis has also helped his production.
All the ways in which he can score will help Cartelli navigate the defenses in the Tri-Valley League he will face coming up as teams know of his scoring ability and will be looking to limit him on offense.
“Last year I was getting double-teamed and face guarded, but I feel this year it’s going to be harder to do that (to me),” Cartelli said. “Every Tri-Valley League team is going to do something new every week. I have to be ready for that, and we’re doing everything we can to prepare for anything.”
Frederick’s first league game is this weekend at home against Holy Family (3-2). It will be a matchup with Cartelli going up against the man he is tied with for the league high in scoring with, the Tigers’ Garrett Green. From there, the team will play again early next week at Berthoud and then play three games in three days with Windsor, Weld Central and Skyline to complete a stretch of five games in eight days to begin the league schedule.
The Warriors have found success in the first month of the season before winter break, but the attention for this year has been to compete with more teams in their league.
“If we can compete at a high level in this league, we can compete at a high level in the playoffs,” Miller said. “We feel we can compete in this league, and at the same time that will propel us to the postseason as well.”
If the production can continue and Frederick can maintain its high level of play in the league, the Warriors feel they will be in position to finish the regular season with a winning record and contend for at least one playoff win for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
For Cartelli, he knows it will take scoring, and then some, to help get the team to that threshold.
“I’ve talked to some kids from 2014 when they did (win in the playoffs),” Cartelli said. “Having that helps us improve and know what it will take to go further this year. I feel like we’re bonding a lot better than we have in the past, but we have to stick together defensively and rebound more. Our defense needs to turn up to get that energy we need.”