On an evening where defense reigned supreme a flicker of offense would go a long way in determining the eventual winner.
Four quarters into Friday’s Division I state select quarterfinal that moment finally transpired for No. 3 Catholic High, which went on a modest 6-0 run midway through the quarter, enabling the Bears to pull away to a 39-25 victory over No. 6 St. Augustine.
“In a game like that a six-point lead feels like a 12-point lead because of the limited possessions,” Catholic coach Mark Cascio said. “Once we got it to eight, we were in the driver’s seat and in control with a couple of more stops.”
Catholic (21-8) advanced to its first state semifinal since 1995 and will face No. 2 St Paul’s, a 78-66 winner over Brother Martin, in next week’s state tournament at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.
It’s not often a game totaling 64 points, where both teams combined for only 18 field goals, could feature such drama.
There were five lead changes through 24 minutes, when Catholic took a 20-19 lead into the fourth quarter and promptly opened a 28-20 lead with 3:42 remaining.
Catholic led 22-20 after Tyrone Trufant’s free throw for St. Augustine. Hunter Williams answered for the Bears with a free throw, Kentrell Garnett made his team’s lone 3-pointer of the half and Williams converted a tough, hanging one-hander in the lane.
St. Augustine (23-11) stopped that surge with a pair of free throws from Brandon Bode with 3:12 to go, but the Purple Knights, who had a nine-game win streak snapped, only made 1 of 13 shots from the floor in the quarter.
St. Augustine shot 21 percent in the second half and 23 percent overall (9 of 39). Devon Jefferson led the Knights with five points.
“We struggled putting the ball in the hole late,” St. Augustine coach Mitchell Johnson said. “I thought our defensive energy was there, and we could get some stops. You have to give them credit. They made the plays when they needed to.”
Catholic, which shot 33 percent (10 of 30) for the game, didn’t make a field goal after Williams’ basket in traffic. The Bears cemented the victory with 13 of 15 shooting from the free-throw line, including an 8 of 8 performance from Collin Holloway, who led the Bears with 10 points.
“Both teams were playing really good defense and as the game went on, I felt like one team was going to make a run,” Cascio said.