Vincent Phillips started it.
His teammates finished it.
Phillips, a senior guard at Karr, scored 19 first-half points before injuring his foot in Tuesday’s showdown against McDonogh 35.
The rest of the Cougars picked up the slack in the second half in Karr’s 79-75 victory over McDonogh 35 in a key District 10-4A game.
“Our coach told us that the whole team would have to play big for us to win,” Phillips said. “We moved the ball around so we could get all the players involved and they came through in a big-time game.”
Phillips finished with a team-high 23 points, limping his way through the second half.
Diamante Wooldridge and Quindell Johnson scored 14 points each for the Cougars in a battle of two of the top-ranked teams in Class 4A.
Karr (19-11, 4-1 in 10-4A) is ranked No. 4 in the most recent LHSAA power rankings and McDonogh 35 (18-9, 4-1) is ranked No. 5.
It was the Cougars’ first win in three tries over the Roneagles this season. McDonogh 35 won 75-70 in a tournament in December and 58-48 in a district game at Karr in early February. That game started at Karr and ended at Harte Charter School because of a wet floor.
But the Cougars avenged those losses on the Roneagles’ home court.
“We needed to get a win on the road in a tough environment against a real good team,” Karr coach Taurus Howard said.
Phillips got the Cougars going in the first half, scoring 13 of his points in the second quarter to help his team build a 33-32 halftime lead. He scored just four points the rest of the way, though.
Tyree Thompson, Karr’s other top scorer, didn’t score his first basket until 1:24 left in the game. But Woolridge, a start receiver on the football team, along with Johnson, Devin Edinburgh, Skylar Perry, Daijean Dixon and John Maxmillion all stepped up.
“That’s what we hang our hats on,” Howard said. “We want to be balanced and not focus on just one or two guys. Some guys stepped up. You never know when it’s going to be your turn to help the team out, and we did a good job of that tonight.”
Karr stretched its lead to 55-45 late in the third quarter on a Johnson 3-pointer, but the Roneagles didn’t go away. Led by UMass signee De’Jon Jarreau, McDonogh 35 trimmed it to 57-77 with 5:33 left. They made it a four-point game on three occasions late, but never could get any closer.
Jarreau finished with a game-high 31 points, with most of those coming from the free-throw line. He was 19 of 25 from the free-throw line after scoring just six points in the last game against Karr.
“That’s one of the disappointing things is we didn’t do a good job of controlling their best player,” Howard said. “But he’s a hard player to control because he is so good.”
Cardiz Humble scored 20 points for the Roneagles.
“I thought we had too many defensive lapses,” McDonogh 35 coach Kevin Sanders said. “We can’t give up 79 points and expect to win on a consistent basis. I thought we played well considering the magnitude of the game.”
McDonogh 35 plays Easton on Friday in its regular-season finale, while Karr ends its season Wednesday at home against Belle Chasse at 4 p.m. Both teams will be headed to the playoffs that begin next week with lofty expectations.
“I think we are playing and getting better every game,” Howard said. “We are starting to get some momentum and that’s what you want going into the playoffs.”