Going against two-time defending Class 1A state champion County Day, the Newman Greenies faced a tough challenge on Saturday night.
However, with starting point guard Cass Lapeyre out with a broken hand, things were even more daunting.
After a first-quarter feeling-out period, Country Day, No. 8 in The New Orleans Advocate’s Super 10 poll, became increasingly aggressive defensively in turning the game into a 70-36 rout at the Newman Palaestra.
“We know that one of their key players is out with a hurt hand,” Cajuns coach Mike McGuire said. “So, we wanted to extend (the defense) and make the other guys handle the ball and keep the ball out of (Peter) Drennan’s hands.
“They started making some bad passes, and we were able to get up the floor. That was the turning point.”
Drennan, a senior guard, led Newman (9-8) with 18 points, but no other Greenie scored in double figures.
The Cajuns (12-7) were led by guards Michael Corchiani, who had a game-high 22 points, and J.C. Younger with 20. However, Country Day was particularly effective inside behind the strong play of Walker Bright, who muscled his way to 17 points, all in the first three quarters.
With the 6-foot-4 Bright leading the way with 13 points, Country Day led 35-25 at halftime after outscoring Newman 15-10 in the second quarter.
Then, behind guards Romin Williams and Tory Harrell, the Cajuns began picking up Newman’s guards farther away from the basket and pressuring them when the third quarter started. That forced the Greenies to play at a faster pace, which they could not handle, and Country Day began to get out on the fast break.
The Cajuns outscored the Greenies 21-5 in the third quarter in blowing the game open 56-30.
Newman coach Jimmy Tellette acknowledged Country Day is an excellent team. However, he said, the loss of Lapeyere had a domino effect on his lineup and how his team played.
“We shifted people around to different positions,” Tillette said. “(Country Day) played very well, and we looked uncertain in the spots we would normally be in.”
When Corchiani sank a 3-pointer two minutes into the fourth quarter, Country Day’s lead reached 61-31. McGuire had already begun substituting by then.
Three of the Cajuns’ losses this season have come out of state, McGuire said, and Country Day also has lost to Karr and Helen Cox, two of the metro area’s top teams, both being members of Class 4A.
“We’ve played some tough teams, and I think that’s why we’re starting to peak now,” said McGuire, whose team is 4-0 in District 9-1A. “They see if we play possession by possession, we’ve got a chance (to be good again).”
Lapeyre, who was injured against St. Martin’s in the Brother Martin tournament nine days ago, won’t return for another 2 ½ weeks, Tillette said.