Country Day is right at home as a No. 4 seed in the Class 1A boys basketball playoffs. For good reason. After all, the Cajuns have won state championships the past two years as a four seed each time.
And, fourth-seeded again this year, they are now on their way back to the Top 28 after defeating fifth-seeded Northwood-Lena 62-51 in Metairie in Class 1A quarterfinal .
Country Day (23-10) advances to the semifinals and will face the Madison Prep, which beat Southern Lab 68-44, Wednesdayat the Boys Top 28 Tournament in Lake Charles. With the loss, Northwood had its 12-game winning streak snapped. The undefeated 3-1A district champion finished the season 25-6.
The win didn’t come easy for Country Day as the Cajuns trailed until midway through the third quarter. Behind Northwood’s 6-8 center Michael Layssard, who scored 17 of his game-high 27 points in the first half, Country Day trailed by as many as 13 points and was down 28-20 at halftime.
“Romin (Williams) and J.C (Younger) got hot in the third, and Brantley Mock came in and really neutralized Layssard. We were rattled a little bit in the first half. We got our composure, and once you start hitting 3’s (3-pointers) the game can change so quickly,” Country Day coach Mike McGuire said.
“I thought our defense was great in the second half. Mock and Trey Harrell were the difference defensively. And Romin, J.C. and Michael (Corchiani) took over in the second half. At halftime, I told them it’s four quarters, we just got to settle down and chip away. Our start to the fourth quarter was outstanding.”
Country Day took over the second half with a barrage of 3-pointers and the better defensive against Layssard. Behind Williams’ six baskets, including two 3-pointers, and Younger’s four 3-pointers, the Cajuns outscored Northwood 42-23 in the second half.
Williams ignited the second-half rally with a runner in the lane followed seconds later by his 3-pointer from the left corner and Younger hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to get Country Day to within one point at 30-29. Layssard hit two quick baskets to extend the Gators lead to 34-29. Younger and Williams hit consecutive 3-pointers with the second giving Country Day its first lead, 35-34.
The teams exchanged the lead at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth quarter, but the Cajuns took the lead for good, 46-45, on Trey Harrell’s driving layup with five minutes left. Younger and Corchiani then buried 3-pointers and Williams added another runner to give Country Day a 53-45 cushion.
The Cajuns then went to its spread offense and iced the game with nine free throws.
Younger scored 24 points, including seven 3-pointers, and had nine rebounds. Williams had 20 points with three 3-pointers and had seven assists. Corchiani added 11 points and seven rebounds. The Cajuns had 10 three-pointers total.
“Coach Mike just told us that we needed to be more aggressive in the second half. I took that advice played more aggressive. And J.C. and Michael gave me the ball in positions to score,” Williams said.
“We just got our poise back in the second half. We were a little tense. In the second half, we got loose and we just played our basketball. We settled down and executed the plan that Coach had for us,” Younger said.