Country Day, fresh off a state title a year ago, looks to be finding its championship form yet again.
Country Day stretched its winning streak to nine Saturday night with a 51-39 victory over visiting Newman in a nondistrict game.
"Around this time of the year is always when we start to find our groove," said junior guard Caleb Jenkins. "We start to learn how everybody plays and we start to figure it all out."
Jenkins and Justin Ibieta combined for 32 points to lead the way for the Cajuns (19-8).
Ibieta, also the starting quarterback on the football team, scored a game-high 17 points and Jenkins finished with 15.
The victory came just two days after Country Day went on the road and beat Riverside to clinch the District 11-2A title.
"It was a great week," Country Day coach Mike McGuire said. "Our guys were focused. Newman knows us and we know them. Our inside presence at the end wore them down a little bit. I thought (Ross) Talbot and Ibieta and Jenkins and (Christian) Becnel eventually wore them down. But Newman was really good for three quarters."
But it was the fourth quarter that did the Greenies in. Newman didn't score a field goal in the fourth quarter until just 55 seconds left when J.P. Bush knocked down a deep 3-pointer when the outcome was already decided. The Greenies also went without a field goal in the final 2:14 of the third quarter. In all, the drought lasted right at nine minutes. A game that was 35-32 at the end of the third ended up being decided by double digits. Newman didn't help itself from the free throw line, making just 7 of 16.
Riley Demps scored 13 points to lead the Greenies, who fell to the Cajuns for the second time this season.
Country Day squeaked out a 45-42 victory in the first meeting played Uptown.
"We battled inside and kept getting rebounds and kept up the defensive intensity," Ibieta said. "Whenever we are down, we try to turn up the intensity on defense.
Country Day found itself down early in this one. Newman raced out to a 10-2 lead early on seven straight points by Demps and a 3-pointer by Javon Ruffin. Country Day responded though by going on a 14-0 run, sparked by six points from Ibieta. The Cajuns led 16-13 after one. Both teams struggled to start the second quarter, which was scoreless until Nicky Corchiani nailed a 3-pointer with 4:23 left. Country Day led 23-19 at the break.
McGuire, whose defending state championship team is No. 2 in the Division III power rankings, likes where his team is now.
"We play hard and we defend," McGuire said. "When you hold someone in the 30s or 40s, you have a chance to win. Overall I think we are defending like we defended in the past."
Ruffin scored 10 and James Amoss had nine points for Newman.
Talbot finished with seven for the Cajuns.
"This week builds our confidence," Ibieta said. "We are starting to play better and we just want to keep it going."
COUNTRY DAY 49, NEWMAN 35: Sophomore Kaci Chairs scored 19 of her game-high 26 points in the first half to lead the Cajuns (7-9).
Chairs, who played just three quarters, was also 9-for-9 from the free throw line.
Bailey Nelson scored 17 points and Shoshana Cohen had 12 for the Greenies.