LAKE CHARLES - Catholic High and St. Paul's were about as evenly matched as one would expect in a No. 2 vs. No. 3 matchup.
But in the end, it was too much of St. Paul's senior guard Parker Edwards, mixed with a late offensive lull, that did in the Bears.
No. 3 Catholic High had trouble slowing Edwards and fell 59-52 in the Division I semifinals of the LHSAA boys basketball tournament at Burton Coliseum.
"Credit to St. Paul's," Catholic coach Mark Cascio said. "Every time we got the momentum they did a great job of seizing it back."
The Bears, making their first trip to the semifinals since 1995, finished 19-9.
Kentrell Garnett scored 16 and Collin Holloway had 14 points and 11 rebounds. But it wasn't quite enough to offset Edwards big day.
Edwards finished with a game-high 34 points.
"He's a great player," Cascio said. "I thought we did a great job on him defensively, as crazy as that sounds with the impact he had on the game. He made some really tough shots. He is just one of those guys you can have a hand in his face, but it doesn't always affect his shot."
Edwards scored 21 of his team's 29 second-half points, saving his best for the final quarter when he scored 12. None of those points were bigger than his momentum-swinging back-to-back 3-pointers with 4:57 left to tie the game at 47.
Catholic was leading 47-41 before the pair of 3-pointers that ignited a 10-0 St. Paul's run.
"Both teams were able to find a rhythm at different points of the game," Cascio said. "They just had a couple more momentum swings."
St. Paul's (27-5) advances to Saturday's 6 p.m. championship game to play top-seed Scotlandville, which beat rival McKinley in Thursday's other semifinal.
Catholic got outscored 18-5 over the last six minutes. They went 3½ minutes in the final quarter without a basket between Nicholas Judice's 3-pointer at the 6-minute mark and Collin Holloway's 3-point play that cut it to 51-50 with 2:26 left. But the Bears were outscored 8-1 the rest of the way.
"This is an unbelievably tough team," St. Paul's coach Stephen Dale said. "I don't know if there is a better way to describe us. To be down five (actually six) to that type of team and to be able to lock in and get huge stops and loose balls and rebounds down the stretch was big. We knew the offense would take care of itself. If we could just get enough stops, we'd win."
The Bears had to play most of the second half without starter Jack Judice, who broke his wrist with 5:05 left in the third quarter when hitting the floor after trying to block a shot. He finished with four points and one rebound.
"It definitely hurt us," Cascio said. "He's a senior post and plays a lot of minutes and it changed a lot of our substitution patterns and offensive game plan. Credit to our team, we still had an opportunity to win."
Judice and Hunter Williams were the two seniors starters in the Bears' lineup.
"It's exciting as much as it hurts right now," Cascio said. "We have a young group. We get production from our seniors, juniors and sophomores. So when you have that kind of mix, it's great for that season but it's also really exciting for the future."