Catholic High basketball coach Mark Cascio was concerned a grueling three games in the Sugar Bowl Tournament might sap his team’s strength coming out of the holidays.
But Tuesday night at Lee High the Bears had plenty of energy and their shooting eyes to boot in taking a 74-51 victory against the Patriots.
Catholic (19-2) sank nine of their 13 3-point attempts in the first half and pulled away with a 27-6 advantage in the second quarter. Kentrell Garnett scored 18 of his game-high 20 points in the first half, Dennis Hebert had 11 and Peyton Worley 10 for Catholic.
“I was worried about our legs, but we played a good first half with a lot of energy,” Cascio said. “We were able to get ourselves in rhythm offensively and that was a credit to our defense being disruptive and rebounding clean.
“Lee is a very good team so I was excited about what we were able to do. We shot the ball well against the zone and were able to get stops early. When the offense is playing well it helps your D and when the defense is playing well it helps the offense. We were able to find that groove and it set the pace for the game.”
The lead changed hands six times in the early going but Garnett scored eight consecutive points during a 10-0 run to give Catholic a 17-8 lead. A basket by Ian Cavana started a 21-0 run in the second quarter and Garnett finished the run with his fourth 3-pointer to give Catholic its biggest first half lead at 48-16.
Catholic’s lead peaked at 35 points, 74-39 before Lee (10-7) scored the last 12. Jacob Wilson led the Patriots with 16 points, Quentin Henry 15 and Zavier Sims 14.
“Catholic is a really good team,” Lee coach Brandon White said. “We had a couple of guys out, including my leading scorer (David Weber) for some internal team things. All credit to those guys. They came in and beat up on us. It’s no excuse. Catholic took care of business. We’ll be fine once we roll around to district Jan 21."
The Bears played without sixth-man Justin Bertrand but it didn’t matter as Cascio’s bench played the entire fourth quarter and 11 different players scored. Catholic returns three starters from last year’s state playoff semifinalist team.
“They are very different teams,” Cascio said. “This team plays very hard, very scrappy. Last year we were much bigger but this team makes up for it by playing hard.”