A buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Joseph Foucha clinched a 51-48 victory for McDonogh 35 over Country Day in the first round of the Newman Invitational Tournament on Tuesday night.
After Country Day guard Romin Williams nailed a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to give the Cajuns (1-1) a 44-36 lead, the Roneagles (6-2) went on a 15-4 run to end the game, which included Foucha scoring the final five points for McDonogh 35.
“I knew coach was going to give it to me,” said Foucha, who finished with eight points. “He told me to be ready for the shot. I just went to my spot, set up and knocked it down.”
Roneagles coach Kevin Sanders said that getting these types of wins early in the season can give a boost to the growth of his team and assist them going forward.
“This is what we are looking for when we enter tournaments like this,” Sanders said. “We’re trying to build character. We play in one of the toughest districts in the state (9-5A), so they’ve got to get used to playing under pressure and meeting those moments.”
Roneagles junior forward Bryson Gresham was held to two points and two rebounds in the first half, but the 6-foot-8 big man began to establish himself in the post coming out of halftime. Gresham hit two hook shots on two of his team’s first three possessions of the third quarter and scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds in the quarter.
He finished the game with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and grabbed nine rebounds. Guard De’Jon Jarreau added 12 points, six rebounds and three assists.
“We don’t get big men like that in the city often, so we’ve got to utilize him for the duration of this year and next year,” Sanders said of Gresham. “You can’t allow an opportunity like this to pass. We don’t grow them down here like they do in other places.”
McDonogh 35 used its patented pressure defense in the second quarter and began forcing Country Day into some mistakes on the offensive end — Jarreau snatched three steals of his own during the second quarter. The Roneagles increased defensive intensity, along with an eight-point spark off the bench from guard Corey Davis during the quarter, assisted McDonogh 35 in outscoring Country Day 17-11 during the period.
Country Day led 23-21 at halftime.
In the first quarter, Country Day utilized its 2-3 zone defense to perfection, keeping the ball out of Gresham’s hands and forcing the Roneagles into taking tough perimeter jumpers. The Cajuns’ strong defensive play allowed them to jump out to an early 10-0 lead that eventually became 12-4 by the end of the quarter.
Michael Corchiani played a dominant game for the Cajuns, finishing with 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists before tweaking his ankle with six minutes left in the fourth quarter. The junior guard returned to the game, but didn’t register a point in the final quarter.