University High School’s boys basketball coach Joe Spencer truly believes it when he says his team is capable of getting a stop on defense every time the down court, and the Cubs showed Wednesday night that he might just be right.
U-High (13-1) smothered Country Day’s potent offensive attack, holding them to 11 first-half points, and cruised to a 69-44 victory in the first round of the Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic at the Alario Center in Westwego.
The two-time defending Class 3A state champions will move on to play Landry-Walker, which defeated Westbury (Houston) on Wednesday, in the second round of the tournament at 9 p.m. Thursday.
“They’ve got two really good guards and we tried to put a lot of focus on containing them as best we could,” Spencer said of Country Day. “We played really well on defense, and they probably missed some shots that they would normally make.”
Jalen Johnson led the way for U-High with 25 points and four rebounds, while LSU commitment Wayde Sims added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
After Wednesday’s win, Johnson said he is looking forward to Thursday’s highly anticipated matchup against the fellow two-time defending state champion Landry-Walker.
“It should be a great matchup,” Johnson said. “We know they are going to fight and come in with a great game plan, so we just have to match their intensity. We’re definitely looking forward to it.”
After taking a 16-8 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Cubs’ length on defense began to give Country Day (10-4) fits on offense and the Cajuns struggled to get anything going.
U-High utilized a 17-1 run to balloon its lead to 33-9, and Country Day didn’t score its first field goal of the second quarter until Michael Corchiani’s layup with 40 seconds left, which made the score 33-11 going into halftime.
U-High held the Cajuns to 21 percent from the field through three quarters, before both teams removed the majority of its starters, and Spencer said his team’s size really gave Country Day problems from beginning to end.
“We’ve been playing really well lately and our guys have really committed on both sides,” he said. “We jumped on them kind of early and our size advantage was probably the real difference.”
After beginning the season with an 8-0 record, Country Day has lost some of its early momentum and stumbled to a 2-4 record in the last six games.
The Cajuns said that in order to get things back on track the team will have to start playing with the same energy and defensive effort that they had earlier in the season.
“We just have to play better as a team,” said Country Day guard Romin Williams. “We just couldn’t get any stops on defense. We had a bad game tonight, and we just have to bounce back tomorrow.”