Sometimes a great start is all you need. Just ask the De La Salle Cavaliers.
De La Salle got 14 points each from Jalen Ned and John Kelly, jumped out to a 44-15 halftime lead and did enough in the second half to defeat Rummel 60-43 on Tuesday.
For the Cavaliers (3-2) it was a good way to start the prestigious tournament after having made it to the tournament final last year where they fell to St. Paul’s. Although pleased with the good start, coach Paul Kelly was disappointed in his team’s second-half performance.
“I was happy with the effort and energy from our first group,” he said. “They competed hard, we moved the ball well, we were unselfish. I’m disappointed with our concentration in the second half. I certainly didn’t say the right things at halftime.
"Rummel’s in a rebuilding phase and waiting on footballers to come back so we were certainly lucky and fortunate to catch them at a good time.”
The Cavaliers would know a thing or two about rebuilding. State champions two years ago, De La Salle returned just one starter last season on its way to the Division II semifinals. This year, it’s the opposite, as it returns all but one starter from last year and are more experienced.
“(Our team’s experience) has been an advantage in that last year it seemed like we were starting from scratch whereas this year we’re further along,” Kelly said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re any better but we are further along at this point of the season. Our guys are older and more seasoned. We’ve been having better practices and have been more competitive and we’ve been working hard enough to steadily improve.”
Rummel (0-6) dressed out only seven players as they await the members of the football team to return. The lack of depth showed as they failed to get much of an offensive rhythm in the first half. The second half did see the Raiders outscore De La Salle 28-16, which first-year coach Scott Thompson felt encouraged about moving forward.
“We battled until the end,” Thompson said. “We had a bad start and you have to credit De La Salle because they’re an extremely talented team and very well coached. We didn’t have physical or mental toughness in the first half but we were much more focused and we battled a lot harder in the second half and you can see that this team is getting better every time out. Our guys have to learn to deal with adversity. We’ve had an extremely difficult schedule and the guys who are playing for us are the young men who have bought in to what we’re really asking them to do in terms of mental and physical toughness.”
Rummel was led by Colby Barwah and Garrett Schmidt, who finished with 11 points each.