LAKE CHARLES — For the first time since 2012, Country Day won’t be bringing the Class 1A state championship trophy back to Metairie.
Madison Prep altered those plans much like they altered Country Day’s shots Wednesday, bringing the Cajun’s 3-peat bid to a halt with a 47-32 loss in a semifinal at The Boys Top 28 State Tournament at Burton Coliseum.
“I thought they were the better team today,” Country Day coach Mike McGuire said. “Their length made our shots difficult. We gave a valiant effort. They have a lot of weapons. I’m proud of my guys for fighting until the end.”
Madison Prep’s size gave Country Day fits, making almost every shot difficult, especially early. The shortest player in the Chargers’ starting lineup is listed at 6-foot-3. It also includes a 6-6, two 6-5’s and a 6-4.
It was a big reason the Chargers held the Cajuns to 27.9 percent shooting (12 of 43) while shooting 69.2 percent (18 of 26) from the floor.
“When you have that kind of discrepancy (in shooting), you are probably going to come out on top,” Madison Prep coach Jeffrey Jones said.
It was a rematch of last year’s championship game that Country Day won 50-47.
But now it will be the Chargers going to the final for a third straight year after winning a Class B title in 2013.
Madison Prep (32-1), the top seed, advances to Saturday’s 2 p.m. championship game to play No. 3 Lafayette Christian.
Country Day, the No. 4 seed, finished 23-11 after falling in a game that they methodically slowed down.
“We had to play slow, grind it out and give ourselves a chance in the fourth quarter,” McGuire said.
The Cajuns scored just seven points in the first half. They didn’t get their first field goal until the end of the first quarter until J.C. Younger drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Their only other field goal in the first half was a 3-pointer by Romin Williams with 4:44 left in the second quarter.
They shot 2 of 14 in the half (0-for-9 on two-point shots) and trailed 16-7 at halftime.
“I thought in the first half we weren’t used to their length,” Michael Corchiani said. “In the second half, we got used to it and started pump faking.”
After Williams’ 3-pointer midway through the second quarter, Country Day went over eight minutes without scoring.
The next basket didn’t come until 4:06 remained in the third when Corchiani knocked down a 3-pointer from right in front of the Country Day bench.
By the time, Country Day trailed 20-10.
But it gave the Cajuns a little bit of a spark.
Corchiani followed it up with a reverse layup, Younger and Corchiani both scored in the lane and all of a sudden the Cajuns trailed just 22-16 with 2:14 left in the third.
Madison Prep answered, though, going on a 10-2 run, capped off by a highlight reel alley-oop from Joshua Anderson to Brandon Sampson.
The Cajuns cut it to six again with 2:11 left when Younger hit a 3-pointer to make it 38-32.
“We cut it to (32-26) and I thought we had a chance,” McGuire said. “We just couldn’t get the ball to fall. I thought we played as hard as we could … We knew if we could keep it to single digits, we had a chance.”
It was as close as they could get though, never quite able to overcome their slow start.
Madison Prep made sure Country Day didn’t close the gap, knocking down nine straight free throws to end the game. Brandon Sampson and freshman Joshua Lebland led Madison Prep with 13 points each.
Corchiani, who was injured after a hard fall late in the game, led Country Day with 13 points.
“Michael is just all guts,” McGuire said.
Younger was the only other Country Day player in double figures. He finished with 11 points. Williams finished with five.
“We wanted to make J.C., Romin and Michael work for everything they got,” Jones said.
Country Day loses just two seniors off this year’s team (Walker Bright and Harrison Downs). But next year, the Cajuns will move up to Class 2A.
“Our goal every year is to get here,” McGuire said. “We have to regroup and do what we do best and play Country Day basketball and try to get back here. We had a great year but just didn’t do it at the end here.”