A year after winning the CYO tournament, the De La Salle Cavaliers got off to a good start in their quest to repeat as tournament champions.
Jalen Henry scored 15 points, John Kelly chipped in 12 more and De La Salle dominated Shaw, winning 78-44 in the opening round of the CYO tournament.
The Cavaliers, the defending Division II state champions, are in the beginning of a youth movement after losing three of last year’s starters to graduation, one other to transfer and missing their only returning starter, Noble Scott, until De La Salle’s football season ends. De La Salle coach Paul Kelly was content with getting the win Wednesday night.
“I thought we were much more effective in the second half,” he said. “I don’t think we played particularly hard or particularly smart in the first half so the second half was the best half we’ve played this season. It’s only our second game and we’re very young and very inexperienced, so it’s a learning process every night for our guys.”
The Eagles, another young team, had their struggles, but coach Wesley Laurendine, though aware of their struggles, was optimistic about his team’s future after the loss.
“I think we have to stick more to our game plan,” he said. “Our game plan was to start fast on defense and locate shooters and we did a poor job of that. We’re a really, really young team. We have got to be one of the youngest teams in the United States of America, we start an eighth-grader and basically three freshmen, so we’ve got a ways to go but I’m really excited about my team.”
The first quarter was low scoring as things remained close with De La Salle holding just an 11-8 lead at the end of one.
The Cavaliers began to pull away in the second quarter, however, as Henry knocked in a pair of 3-pointers and Kelly put one in himself, giving De La Salle the lead 28-17 at halftime.
The third quarter saw De La Salle fully separate themselves as Henry added two additional 3’s and Kelly added yet another as the Cav’s scored 26 points and took a 54-33 lead into the fourth and went on to take the game.
While playing with a youthful and inexperienced roster missing their only seasoned player is a challenge, Kelly said his team is taking it one step at a time after the big victory.
“We took a huge step forward tonight,” he said. “We’ll try and do the same tomorrow night. We’re not trying to win games, we’re just trying to get better. We’re gone to have to learn how to survive and thrive without Noble. Noble’s a good player and we’re going to really need his toughness and his leadership and he’ll be another addition but my whole focus right now is on these kids here and getting them where they need to be.”