It’s playoff time for the Country Day Cajuns, and for a team with two state titles in the past three years, it was time to turn things up a notch.
That was the case Friday against Vinton, as Country Day jumped on Vinton from the start and rolled to an 82-54 victory at Patrick gymnasium.
“The kids were really focused,” coach Mike McGuire said. “We hadn’t played in a week since the Newman game, and they were tired of practicing. They really came out ready.”
The victory sends the Cajuns (22-8), winners of District 9-2A, to a game Tuesday against Sophie B. Wright, a 70-65 winner over St. Thomas Aquinas. Vinton, the third-place team from District 4-2A, ended the season at 16-9.
Point guard Romin Williams led Country Day with 22 points, and freshman guard Kaleb Jenkins had 15. However, 10 Cajuns scored, as McGuire emptied his bench playing junior varsity players by the game’s end.
Guard Antoine Budwine led Vinton with 21 points, and Demario Frilot had 10.
Like an experienced playoff team, the Cajuns came out focused on defense and whipping the ball around on offense. With an alert and aggressive man-to-man full-court defense paving the way, Country Day scored the game’s first 14 points.
Vinton, located near Lake Charles, scored its first basket at the 3:03 mark on a 12-foot jump shot by DeMario Frilot. Country Day led 19-6 at the end of the first quarter.
“We’re a rebuilding program, and our kids started the game with that deer in the headlights look, and before you know it, we were down by a lot quickly,” said Lions coach Carlo Maggio.
“Country Day defended well from the start. We couldn’t get into our motion offense until the third quarter.”
Even with reserves playing much of the second quarter, the Cajuns built a 37-11 bulge on the way to a 45-18 halftime lead. Although Country Day scored in a variety of ways – drives, fast break and outside shots, it exploited the right side of the Lions’ defense in particular, sinking five 3-pointers from that spot in the first half.
Vinton committed 14 first-half turnovers.
The Lions showed some life near the end of the third quarter, going on a 7-3 run to come to 54-32. It meant they’d outscored the Cajuns 14-9 in the third to that point. However, the quarter ended with Country Day leading 63-38, meaning it had been outscored just 20-18.