The rivalry between Edna Karr and Landry-Walker might reach new heights when the two schools face each other in district play, but that doesn’t mean the rivalry stops when the two meet in predistrict tournaments.
That was evident when the two sides got into an altercation midway through the fourth quarter that saw several technical fouls handed out and two players ejected, but Karr (15-4) kept control of their emotions and pulled out a 56-52 victory over the Chargin’ Bucs in the second round of the Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic at the Alario Center on Thursday night.
Karr will face LSU commitment Ben Simmons and Monteverde Academy in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“They both were at fault, I had no problem with (the ejection),” Karr coach Taurus Howard said. “It is what it is. They should be playing basketball, not trying to fight. What I’m most proud of is that our kids competed together and they played smart; that’s why we were able to get this victory tonight.”
Landry-Walker center Blake Paul and Karr forward Raekwon Bush were both ejected at the 4:47 mark in the fourth quarter after an altercation between the two players, but amongst the two teams, Karr did a better job of handling the circumstances and immediately went on a 9-0 run after the two ejections.
The Chargin’ Bucs (12-8) clawed their way back, and even cut the Karr lead down to 54-52, but the Cougars found a way to pull the win out in the end.
“Before the game even started, coach told us that we have to have mental toughness,” Karr forward Vincent Phillips said. “So when Raekwon got thrown out the game, it was on me to score.”
Phillips, in particular, picked up the slack for Karr after Bush’s ejection, scoring eight points down the stretch and taking control of the lane with Bush and Paul out the game.
The junior finished with 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field and 10 rebounds.
“We’re district rivals, the kids hang with each other, so we’re going to get their best game,” Howard said.
“No real damage was done. I was just glad our kids kept a cool head and we talked about how the game would be rough and a little bit physical and we just had to match their physicality.”
After the Cougars opened the second quarter with a quick basket to take their first lead, the Chargin’ Bucs got a huge boost from their bench in the form of feisty backup guard Lamont Berzat. The 5-foot-6 Berzat knifed through the Karr defense on three consecutive possessions and managed to go on a personal 7-0 run to give Landry-Walker a 20-15 lead midway through the second.
Bush answered the Berzat run with a 7-0 run of his own that ended with him knocking down two free throws to give Karr a 22-20 lead heading into halftime.
Bush finished with nine points, a rebound and a block before being ejected.
“It was a good win. It always feels good to beat our rival,” said Phillips, who experienced his first victory over Landry-Walker with Thursday’s win. “My 9th grade year, I didn’t even play varsity. Then last year, coach made me a captain, and now this year we finally beat them.”
Landry-Walker came into the game with a high level of energy from the opening tip. They used their energy to jump on the Cougars, racing to a 10-0 lead in the first few minutes.
Once Karr picked up their defensive intensity, it forced a few turnovers and got themselves back in the game. Diamante Woolridge’s midrange jumper as the buzzer sounded cut the Cougars deficit to 14-13 as they headed into the second quarter.
“We didn’t take advantage of what they were giving us,” Howard said. “We took a couple ill-advised shots, and once we calmed down, we started taking what they were giving us. That’s what helped us get back in the game so quickly.”
Lamar Peter led Landry-Walker with 19 points and four rebounds.