LAKE CHARLES — Top-seeded Jehovah-Jireh crossed the first item off its to-do list at the LHSAA boys basketball tournament Monday.
The Warriors (28-13) raced out to a 24-7 first-quarter lead and had four players score in double figures in a 75-53 Division V semifinal win over Episcopal School of Acadiana at Burton Coliseum.
“I think overall we are very happy with the way we played,” JCA coach Dirk Ricks said. “We started off fast, which was our goal. And we were able to finish at the basket. Our first goal in every game is to defend. We like to get stops without fouling and get as many consecutive stops as we can. Once you get them out of the game, you don’t allow them back in it.”
With the win, Jehovah-Jireh advances to play No. 3 Crescent City (24-13), a 75-61 winner over Grace Christian in the first semifinal. The game set for 10 a.m. Friday is a rematch of last year’s final won by Crescent City.
Trenton Payne and Jaron Davis each scored 13 points to lead JCA, which utilized its full 10-player roster. Donald Johnson III and John Paul Ricks added 10 points apiece.
Mark Dibbs led ESA (19-18) with a game-high 23 points. Tucker Arkin (14) and Danny Ahluwalia (12) were other double-figures scorers for the Falcons, who could not replicate last year’s game, when they cut a big JCA lead to six points before losing by 10.
“The start that we had, obviously not ideal,” ESA coach Jason Fatheree said. “But the reason why I think we got here is because of the way these kids fight, the way they battle. They never give up. They don’t play to the scoreboard.”
Jehovah-Jireh left little to chance. The Warriors used their pressure defense to score 12 first-quarter points off turnovers. JCA scored the first 17 points. ESA didn’t get on the scoreboard until a Arkin three-point play with 3:28 to go, making it 17-3.
Davis and Ricks each scored five first-quarter points as Jehovah-Jireh built a 24-7 lead. The Warriors kept the pressure on. Though they finished the half with 10 turnovers, the Falcons failed to cut the lead significantly. JCA led 40-22 at halftime.
Payne scored the first six points of the second half. Jehovah-Jireh led by as much as 25 points in the second half and led by 20 or more throughout the fourth quarter.
“Our main focus was to get out to a fast start and not play around with them, and we did,” Johnson said.
Payne added, “Today, it was fun.”