Country Day came out of the gates with hot shooting Thursday and topped Jesuit 60-49 in the second round of the Newman Invitational.
The Cajuns (2-1) were led by the duo of senior Caleb Jenkins and junior Justin Ibieta, who together accounted for 39 points. Jenkins finished the night with 25 points, while Ibieta ended with 14 points.
“It was a great team effort. We knew that coming in they were going to be an aggressive defensive team, so credit to the boys. They found me when I was open — back door, stuff like that,” said Jenkins.
Country Day coach Mike McGuire also credited Jenkins for his ability to distribute the ball, which created opportunities for his teammates to make plays.
“Caleb is our quarterback," McGuire said. "He’s our guy that makes us go, both offensively and defensively. Caleb was hitting some shots and getting to the rim, and he’s just a bulldog. I thought tonight he shared the ball better. I’m really proud of him — the way he’s handled the ball, handled the pressure. I thought the other guys stepped up, Ibieta in particular. Some of our younger kids played well. Xane Hunter is a sophomore and he played outstanding as well."
Country Day ended the first quarter up 16-3, and the Cajuns took a 25-13 into halftime, which Jesuit coach Chris Jennings said set the tone for the game.
“They just came out much more focused and they played harder, and they took it to us in the very beginning," he said. "The whole thing was set in the first quarter by the way they attacked the game and the way we did not attack the game."
The Blue Jays (9-1) continued to battle from behind in the second half, but the Cajuns got to the free-throw line and put the game out of reach with under two minutes to play.
“They played tough," Ibieta said. "They played hard defense. Every time they fouled us, we just had to knock down some free throws. That was all to it. We just kept our composure, kept the lead the whole game."
With the win, Country Day advances to the semifinals against Hahnville, which beat Newman on Thursday night.
“We’re going to have to come and play," McGuire said. "That’s why we like coming to this tournament. Every game you play — we have to beat a really good Lusher team, then we have to beat a really good Jesuit team — now we have to beat a really good (Hahnville). So that’s the fun about this tournament, it’s really some of the best teams in the city that get together and you got to play your best to win."
Jenkins said if the Cajuns continue to trust in their offensive ability, he’s confident they’ll get the job done.
“It’s about togetherness," he said. “We’ve got a great upper class and as long as we trust each other, we don’t care about who’s scoring the points each night because we know we have offensive weapons. So, as long as we keep moving the ball the wins are going to come."