When third-seeded Country Day needed a basket Friday night, the Cajuns looked to junior Romin Williams.
Williams came through with 14 fourth-quarter points as Country Day knocked off No. 6 Rayville 69-63 in a Class 2A boys state quarterfinal at Country Day.
“It feels great,” said Williams, who finished with 29 points. “In all my years of playing, we’ve been in the final four every year. We’re there again. It was a great team effort. I’m so proud of my team. I’m just speechless right now. We hit a lot of big shots, and we got the stops that we needed in the end.”
The Cajuns (25-8) will play No. 2 Riverside in the semifinals next week in Lake Charles.
“I thought that Romin (Williams) just took over the game at the end,” Country Day coach Mike McGuire said. “He made some big shots when we needed. I thought we defended well too. We battled all game. Rayville is a great team, so we’re happy with the result. We have some great leadership on this team, and Romin was able to settle us down when we needed it.”
The Cajuns came out strong in the third quarter, scoring the first seven points capped by Mike Corchiani’s tip-in, to take a 37-33 lead, three minutes in. Country Day continued on a 12-5 run over the first 5:30 of the quarter for a 42-38 lead.
The Hornets bounced back as C’Anthony Murphy’s layup tied it at 44 with two minutes left in the quarter. But once again, the Cajuns answered as a layup by Corchiani (16 points) and a late 3-pointer by Williams gave Country Day a 49-45 lead through three quarters.
Rayville’s man-to-man pressure started to pay dividends in the fourth quarter as the Hornets took as 54-52 lead on Rashad Naylor’s 3-pointer with five minutes left. But the Cajuns responded with a 12-5 run to take a 64-56 lead with 1:10 left as the Hornets struggled at the free-throw line.
Rayville didn’t go away as back-to-back Jamarkus Wilson 3-pointers cut the lead to 64-62 with less than a minute to play. Wilson finished with 19 points, but Country Day held on as Williams made free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
The Cajuns, who were a Class 1A semifinalist last season and won back-to-back state titles in 2013 and 2014, played well defensively as the Hornets (26-8) came in averaging 85.5 points in two playoff victories.
Country Day jumped out to an 8-1 lead as the Hornets didn’t convert on their first field goal attempt until four minutes into the game. Despite the early-shooting woes, Naylor’s 3-pointer with less than 20 seconds left ended the opening quarter tied at 12 tie.
The Hornets actually took their first lead at 14-12 on Murphy’s layup, but the Cajuns started to heat up from beyond the arc as a pair of Blake Amann 3-pointers extended the Country Day lead to 25-18 midway through the second quarter.
The Cajuns offense struggled from there as the Hornets closed the quarter on a 15-5 run to take a 33-30 halftime lead.