Central Catholic will host Southern Lab

By CORWIN MURRAY

The Central Catholic boys’ basketball team has its focus on the “little things” going into Friday’s Class 1A regional round playoff game against Southern Lab.

The Eagles (21-4), the second seed, cruised to an 85-47 win against Tensas in first round action Tuesday at Central Catholic.

The Eagles, who were playing the Panthers for the third time in as many years in the basketball playoffs, raced out to a 33-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.

During the impressive initial period, the Eagles made the majority of their shots, bolting out to a large lead using a series of fast-break points as well as working the ball in its half-court offense using crisp passing.

“We played really well,” Central Catholic head coach Ree Case said. “We came out with good intensity, and we shot well.”

Tyler Hoffpauir led five Eagles in double figures with 17 points.

Others reaching double figures included Nick Case, 16; Lamar Grogan and Dontrell Brown, 12 apiece; and Josh Singleton, 10.

Both Luke Landry and Brent Green had five points, while David Brown added four.

Central Catholic hit seven three-pointers in the contest.

Despite their first-round success, the Eagles still have to erase the memory of last season’s shocking second-round loss to No. 17 Louisiana New Tech at Plain Dealing. The Eagles entered the 2012 playoffs as the top seed.

After that game, Case said his squad’s 83-77 overtime loss was the result of the Eagles not doing the little things. Specifically, his squad didn’t hit its free throws to possibly avoid overtime.

“This team has been in the playoffs the last four years,” he said now. “It comes down to doing the little things, such as hitting free throws, hustling for loose balls and making good decisions on both ends of the court. We also have to make open shots when we get them.”

Converting open shots will be key for the Eagles because Southern Lab (15-16) runs a two-three zone defense.

Lab, a traditional Louisiana basketball power and the 15th seed in this year’s playoffs, beat Central Catholic, 63-48, in a 2011 quarterfinal matchup in Morgan City. The Eagles were the third seed in that contest while Southern Lab was the sixth seed.

Case said Central Catholic hasn’t had a lot of success against Southern Lab in the schools’ basketball program’s history.

“We got to find a way to win the game and get over that hump,” Case said.

Standout point guard Josh Singleton said he felt Central Catholic is better suited to beat an athletic team like the Kittens this year.

“Obviously we’re two years older, and we’re more mature,” he said. “Lab had better guards two years ago than they have this year, and they were bigger.”

Singleton said it will be a “hard fought game” that isn’t decided until the fourth quarter.

Case also predicted a tight game.

“Lab is a well-coached team that plays well together,” he said. “They are very athletic and motivated. They are the kind of team we have to play well against to beat.”

Southern Lab used a big third quarter to pull away from Grambling Tuesday in Baton Rouge. Lab’s leading scorers in that contest were Marquise Richard, 19; Ray White, 13; Samuel Forest, 11; and Trevon Epps, nine.

“We have to rebound well to beat them also,” Case said. “They go hard on the offensive boards and get a lot of second chance baskets. If we can rebound, we can get out, run and get some easy baskets, which will be big for us.”

Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. today in Morgan City. Admission will be $8.

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