Edna Karr won’t only be competing for a championship in football Saturday.
The Karr boys basketball team jumped out to a big lead early and pulled away late to beat Helen Cox 63-45 on Friday and advance to the championship round of the Newman Invitational Tournament.
Friday’s win marked Karr’s first time advancing to the final of the Newman tournament, and Karr will move on to play the Country Day/St. Augustine winner at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Newman.
“It’s a blessing, because we have a good group of kids on both teams,” said Karr coach Taurus Howard, who will be the defensive coordinator for the football team in Saturday’s Class 4A state football championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“(The basketball team) has limited numbers right now, and they’re playing hard as hell, so I’m really proud of them.”
Vincent Phillips led the offensive charge for Karr (4-4), finishing with 27 points and 10 rebounds, while John Maxmillion added 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.
“This is our first time making it the championship here, and coach told us that we had a chance to make history, so we wanted to go out with a bang,” Phillips said.
After Cox’s Roydell Brown scored a combined 46 points in the first two rounds of the tournament for Cox (5-7), Karr came in knowing that it was pivotal to slow down the Cox forward.
They did just that for the most part.
The Louisiana-Lafayette commitment was held to two points in the first half, and, while he scored 17 second-half points, Cox was unable to shrink the Karr lead to any less than 10 points in the final two quarters.
Brown finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
“Every time (Brown) touched the ball they shaded a man to his side and double-teamed him,” Cox coach Tyron Mouzon said. “They just came out with a lot of energy. They punched us in the mouth and we didn’t respond until the second half.”
Maxmillion scored 11 points in the first quarter, including three 3-pointers, to help Karr snatch a commanding 20-6 lead. Karr continued to ramp up the defensive intensity in the second quarter and held Cox to 30 percent shooting from the field for the half.
Maxmillion added another 3-pointer in the second to match Cox’s scoring output in the half, and Phillips exceeded it with an active 16-point, eight-rebound performance.
Karr led 36-14 at halftime.
“We came in knowing they don’t have any shooters, so we tried to force them to keep it on the outside,” Phillips said. “We did a good job of crowding their big men, and that got us easy buckets on the other end.”
After losing eight seniors from last year’s historic team that finished with a 29-5 record, Cox has already lost more games (seven) than it did all last year and Mouzon said his team is still looking to find it’s identity.
“This team has just been up and down all season,” he said. “We’re going to keep working, we just have to bring that high level of effort every game.”