Most of Country Day’s season has been dictated by the play of its high-scoring backcourt of Michael Corchiani and Romin Williams, but the Cajuns knew it would take more to beat De La Salle on Friday night.
Country Day (13-5) got a combined 48 points from its two starting guards, but it was huge plays in the end by the team’s role players that clinched a 66-58 win in a nondistrict matchup at De La Salle.
The Cajuns handed the Cavaliers (18-5) their first home loss of the season and snapped their 10-game winning streak.
“I love playing on this team, all of our guys play so hard,” Williams said. “(Corchiani) and I do a lot of scoring, but those guys know they can make plays to win games, and that’s what they did tonight.”
The Cajuns stumbled to a 10-5 record after starting the season with eight consecutive victories, but have rebounded with three consecutive wins to get back on track.
Cajuns coach Mike McGuire said that the team’s focus has been playing with more togetherness, which is a big reason it was able to rely on players other than Williams and Corchiani to make big plays down the stretch.
Williams finished with a game-high 29 points and four rebounds, while Corchiani added 19 points, seven rebounds and four steals.
“Everybody’s sharing the ball and we really have a lot of enthusiasm,” McGuire said. “I’m proud of the way they battled, and to hold a team like that to 58 is a great accomplishment.”
After trailing 47-46 going into the fourth quarter, the Cajuns started clamping down on defense and held De La Salle to five points in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter.
Trailing 58-51, the Cavaliers made one last run at the lead, scoring five points over the course of 15 seconds after back-to-back steals to cut their deficit to 58-57.
Corchiani went to the free-throw line with the opportunity to build the Country Day lead, but, after missing both shots, Christian Kerut rebounded the miss and put it in. After the Cajuns stole the ensuing inbounds pass, Trey Harrell added one more layup to make the score 62-57 with less than a minute left.
Harrell also added steals on two of De La Salle’s final possessions, which helped his team add four more free throws in the final seconds to put the game away.
“You have to give those guys a ton of credit, they made all the hustle plays at the end,” De La Salle coach Paul Kelly said. “That and the free throws were the big difference.”
Corchiani and Williams combined for 26 points in the first half and Corchiani’s layup to open the second quarter gave the Cajuns their first double-digit lead of the game at 25-14, but De La Salle used its high-tempo style of offense to get back into the game.
Josh Paul’s driving layup with 35 seconds left in the half tied the score at 33 and was the first time Country Day didn’t possess the lead since the start of the game, but Williams knocked in two free throws to give the lead back to the Cajuns and they went into halftime with a 35-34 advantage.
Stephen Kelly led the Cavaliers with 22 points and three rebounds.