After an opening-round loss against Catholic-Baton Rouge in the Country Day Tournament a few weeks ago, De La Salle coach Paul Kelly said he was very unhappy with the way his team looked.
After that loss and another subpar performance in the team’s next game, Kelly said the Cavaliers had a team meeting to bring the players together and try to get things back on track.
The results were exactly what Kelly hoped. The Cavaliers (16-4) have reeled off eight consecutive victories, including a 67-57 win on the road against Jesuit on Tuesday night.
“We just talked after our second game at the Country Day tournament, and it wasn’t planned,” Kelly said. “With our style of play and how we rotate guys, as crazy as it sounds, our starters felt like they weren’t making the impact they thought they could.
“It’s difficult for any coach to keep that cohesion and that togetherness, but that’s the cornerstone of who we are and that meeting really brought us back together.”
After taking a four-point lead into halftime, Stephen Kelly — Paul’s son — helped De La Salle take control of the game with 12 points in the first 90 seconds of the second half, including a four-point play that gave the Cavaliers a 46-34 lead.
The De La Salle lead grew as large as 62-46 in the fourth quarter and Jesuit was never able to cut its deficit below single digits for the rest of the game.
While Stephen Kelly’s shooting may have put the Cavaliers ahead, Paul said that the key for the team was an increased intensity on the defensive end that helped smother the Blue Jays (5-9).
“I thought in the second half we were able to turn them over in the full court and that got us some easy buckets,” Paul said. “We are committed to taking the 3-pointer as a team, and if we can get a few stops and make a few 3s, our lead can jump really fast.”
Stephen led the way for De La Salle with 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting from 3-point range, while Dashawn Wright also added 13 points and three rebounds. Troy Nisby also played an all-around strong game for the Cavaliers, finishing with seven points, seven rebounds and five assists.
“It was an exciting moment,” said Stephen, speaking of his 12-point outburst in the third. “My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball and I just made the shots. It’s a routine thing for us to try and get everybody the ball for open shots.”
The Cavaliers jumped on Jesuit early with their high-tempo offense and full-court pressure, grabbing an 18-7 lead in the first five minutes of the game, but the Blue Jays slowly crept their way back into contention.
Rob Weiss’ 10 first-quarter points helped Jesuit trim its deficit down to 21-17 by the end of the frame and his 3-pointer early in the second quarter gave the Blue Jays their first lead of the game at 23-21.
Once De La Salle began to slow Weiss down, they reclaimed control of the game and took a 34-30 lead into halftime.
After finishing with 17 points in the first half, Weiss ended the contest with 22 points on 7-of-18 shooting from the field and added five rebounds.