BRUSLY — Thirty seconds into his Brusly Invitational final match, Brusly High School 132-pounder Kendon Lee re-attacked off his opponent’s bad shot, easily ducking under for a two-point takedown.
Fourteen seconds later, Lee used a single-leg takedown for two more points. Twenty-eight seconds later, De La Salle’s Glenn Gebo was on his back. Twenty-four seconds into the second round, Lee pinned Gebo to end the match.
What was driving Lee? A narrow 7-5 loss last week to Brother Martin senior dynamo and Arizona State signee Paul Klein at the Deep South Bayou Duals.
The two could meet again next week in the Louisiana Classic at Baton Rouge Community College.
“I want to win that match so bad with everything I have,” Lee said. “That’s definitely been fueling me.”
Lee was one of four Panthers champions, the most for any team in the tournament, and spearheaded a shorthanded lineup that claimed the Brusly Invitational tournament title on Saturday.
Panthers coach Jimmy Bible said though injuries and attrition have his team’s numbers smaller than usual, the quality across his lineup is unrivaled.
It showed Saturday as the Panthers steamrolled past second-place Basile with a strong showing in both championship and consolation finals.
“I didn’t expect this,” Bible said. “To do this with missing all these weight classes and having starters out, it was surprising to me.”
Joining Lee atop the winners podium were 113-pounder Austin Franklin, 152-pounder Richard Hunter and 160-pounder Koby Mancuso.
Mancuso scored a 16-4 decision over Evangel’s Zyare Hairston, though Bible said his strongest asset comes in his teamwork.
“Can’t say enough about Koby,” Bible said. “He’s been with me for four years, a program guy, a Brusly guy and he wants the team to win and he does what he has to do to be successful.”
Second-place finishers Basile ended the tournament with three champions and North Vermillion, the fourth-place finisher, ended with two champions.
North Vermilion coach Michael Stelly said his team, like Brusly, wasn’t at full strength because of injuries, but was encouraged by the performance of his young wrestlers. Patriots sophomore Brennen Landry had perhaps the most harrowing finals match, surviving a 4-2 decision against his close friend Devin Bazinet of Basile.
“We’re missing three people, and we still placed top four,” Landry said. “I think once we have the whole lineup we’ll come out on top.”
Before the state tournament, though, is next weekend’s Louisiana Classic tournament. The all-division tournament is where Lee will likely get his long awaited rematch with Klein.
“Last year, he had the fire in his belly and he trained hard and did the right things and ended up doing real good,” Bible said of his sophomore. “This year, I think he got a little lackadaisical and it came to bite him on the butt.
“It spurred him to start working harder like he should be and it’s paying off.”
It’s an attitude and work ethic he hopes will vault his team to push Catholic High for a second straight city championship and a fourth consecutive Division III state title.
“That’s our number one goal,” Bible said.
“City championship, state championship. Once we get everyone on our team back healthy, I think we have a good shot at both.”