Six consecutive state semifinals appearances — and counting.
So goes the roll of the reigning Division III state champions from Country Day after overpowering out-manned Holy Savior Menard 69-46 Friday night in a state quarterfinals pairing at Country Day’s Patrick Gymnasium.
Coach Mike McGuire’s message, however, was succinct and on point after seeing his third-seeded Cajuns commit 17 turnovers and miss “a ton’’ of layups while still managing to advance to face No. 2 Dunham in a rematch of last season’s state finals.
“I thought we played hard,’’ said McGuire, who has directed Country Day to four of its six state championships in boys basketball. “We just didn’t finish (around the goal). We’ve got to get better at finishing. We had a few too many turnovers and we’ve got to finish.’’
Forwards Ross Talbot and Justin Ibieta scored 17 and 15 points, respectively, for the victors and mercurial guard Kaleb Jenkins contributed 13 along with three steals to spur the Cajuns to their second victory of the postseason after finishing the regular season on a four-game losing streak.
Country Day (22-12) defeated Dunham 70-41 last season as a No. 2 seed besting a No. 1.
Dunham defeated No. 10 Church Academy 62-46 Friday night at Dunham.
Sixth-seeded Menard (22-12) completed the season with its third loss in four games. Guards Jude Hopewell and John Richey scored 11 and 17 points respectively for the District 4-2A co-champions.
The exact date and time of Country Day’s semifinals pairing in next week’s Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA boys basketball tournament scheduled for McNeese State’s Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles should be announced during the weekend.
“Dunham is a different animal,’’ McGuire said. “We’ve got to play a lot better. They’ve got a lot of good players. Dunham is going to present some problems. So we’ve got to clean up the turnovers and finish well. We’ve got to do a better job with our interior passing.’’
Country did not trail in the game in establishing leads of 16-9, 32-20 and 49-30 at the end of the first, second and third periods. The Cajuns also forced the Eagles into 22 turnovers while outrebounding their guests, 29-19, and hitting 9 of 11 free throws.
Talbot and Ibieta each scored nine of their respective 17 and 15 points in the fourth and third periods to keep Menard at bay. Talbot also led the Cajuns with seven rebounds while Ibieta and forward Christian Becnel each grabbed five.
“We started off a little slow in the first half,’’ Talbot, a junior transfer from Jesuit, said. “I just think the shots weren’t falling for us in the first half. But we came out and played much better in the second half.
“I thought we moved the ball around well and we picked up our intensity. We just have to have confidence in each other. We know we can play.’’