Central Catholic's Blake Byrne attempts a shot during Friday's playoff game
(The Daily Review/Geoff Stoute)
Hamilton Christian is too much for Central Catholic
In a matchup of two top 10 seeds in the Division IV quarterfinals, Hamilton Christian just simply played a more complete game against Central Catholic en route to a 69-47 victory.
Hamilton Christian, who wasn’t that much bigger than Central Catholic, made high-percentage shots, feasted on offensive rebounds and gave the Eagles problems at times on the defensive end with their length in blocking shots.
The home standing Warriors jumped out to a 19-12 lead after a quarter on the strength of three three-pointers by Cameron Hare.
Central Catholic cut its deficit to 19-14 with less than 7 minutes remaining in the half on an Elijah Swan lay in.
However, that was as close as the Eagles would get the remainder of the game as Hamilton Christian went on a 23-11 run to end the second quarter and take a 42-25 halftime advantage.
“We talked about it at half,” Central Catholic Coach Ree Case said. “We were right where we wanted to be. Called timeout with four and a half minutes left. We were down eight at the time, and we just didn’t play very well for four straight minutes and we went from down eight to down 17. Didn’t get stops, and we missed some easy shots.” While Central Catholic was outscored a combined 27-22 in the second half, the Eagles kept things much closer, but it was too little, too late.
Hamilton Christian outscored Central Catholic, 16-14, in the third quarter for a 58-39 lead after three quarters.
The Warriors followed that up with an 11-8 fourth-quarter scoring advantage.
“We outplayed them in the second half, and I though we just played hard in the second half,” Case said. “We just (were) too far down in the second half.”
In all, Hamilton Christian hit seven three-pointers and made 22 of 32 free throws.
The squad had three players in double figures, led by Hare’s 19 points. Other double-figure scorers for the Warriors included Kenan Fontenot, 17; and Jordan Vince, 14. Fontenot didn’t play in the Warrior’s regional round win, and Case said he was “huge” for Hamilton Christian. \
“Gave them another ball handler, another scorer,” Case said. “I thought we did a really good job on (Hare). He had a couple of threes early, but he ended up with 19 points. If you would have told me we would have held him to 19, I would have told you we would have won. We just didn’t defend the other guys as well. We gave up too many offensive rebounds to (Vince), and (Fontenot) hit some big shots.”
Central Catholic hit just two three-pointers, and while the Eagles made the majority of their free throws, they shot just 11 in the game.
Ja’len Johnson led the Eagles with 23 points, while Swan scored 10. Other Central Catholic scorers included Samarick Paul, nine, and Brooks Thomas, five.
With Friday’s win, Hamilton Christian advances to the Division IV semifinals Tuesday where it will face Central Catholic’s District 7-1A foe, Lafayette Christian, at 1:15
p.m. in McNeese State’s Burton Coliseum.
Friday’s game was the final for three Central Catholic seniors: Johnson, Paul and Blake Byrne, who Case said have been with him for five years.
“The hardest thing about losing is losing seniors,” Case said. “They’ve done everything we’ve asked. Blake’s played with a hurt shoulder all year. Samarick came back from a knee injury last year.”