The semifinal round is will tip off in about 90 minutes. First up, the No. 7 team in the nation (MaxPreps), White Station of Memphis, Tennessee. I’ve had my share of doubts about the Spartans, who are aggressive and athletic offensively, but give up way too many easy shots in the paint.
Maybe that’s harsh. But after years of seeing Fairfax and Montrose Christian and Oak Hill and all the big boys bang and battle for territory in the paint, it’s surreal to see any nationally ranked team be so … generous.
Anyway, here we go.
Semifinal: Roman Catholic (Penn.) 27, Westchester (Calif.) 21, halftime
The Cahillites hit an astounding seven treys in the first quarter and have led from the start. Gemil Holbrook hit six of those 3-balls.
Roman Catholic 36, Westchester 28, end third quarter
Westchester got within one point, but the Cahillites spread the court four-corners style and expanded the lead.
Westchester 42, Roman Catholic 40, final
Cameron Young and Elijah Stewart scored 11 points each to spark the Comets, who trailed by nine in the third quarter. Gemil Holbrook led the Cahillites with 21 points, all on 3-pointers. Six of them came in the opening quarter.
Epilogue: One of the hardest things to do in basketball is maintain a lead during delay/stall tactics. It’s even more difficult when the tactic begins in the second or third quarter. Though Roman Catholic never went to an all-out stall, they did slow things down in the second quarter.
By the third stanza, they were in four-corners formation and doing OK. But by the fourth quarter, the Westchester defense brought immense pressure and the Cahillites had lost most of their killer instinct to score. Astounding? Perhaps. But it’s always been this way. Unless you have Phil Ford and the 1970s North Carolina Tar Heels running it, it’s almost impossible to maintain the same margin for more than 2-3 minutes. Doing it for an entire quarter is rough. More than a quarter, you take your chances.
It’s too bad. The way they came out hitting shots, the Cahillites might’ve scored 80 tonight. Instead, they lost in the semifinal round. They won the Classic crown in 1995. A second title still eludes them.
Seems quite clear after all these years that the teams that can run and push the tempo, then slow the pace and close out wins have fared best. The teams that grind out every game and every possession without trying to run (or trap fullcourt) lose out on all those transition points. The easy points.
We don’t know what Holbrook would’ve done if the offense had continued to stay wide open for at least three quarters. Would he have made 10 treys? Fifteen? Tough call. Westchester played tough defense down the stretch. They take pride in in it. But we just don’t know what would’ve happened. The ball was essentially taken out of his hands.
Semifinal: White Station (Tenn.) 17, West Linn. (Ore.) 8, end first quarter
White Station 28, West Linn 21, halftime
The Spartans opened the lead to 11, dominating the paint on putbacks. But West Linn chipped away. Payton Prichard hit a 3 with 1 second left in the half to cut the margin to seven.
White Station 43, West Linn 37, end third quarter
A barrage of threes by the Lions cut the lead to two during the third quarter.
White Station 66, West Linn 54, final
Consolation: Hamilton (Wis.) 26, St. Rita (Ill.) 23, second quarter, 6:18
Kevon Looney is on fire in the early going from deep and mid-range.
Hamilton 42, St. Rita 41, halftime
Delmarco Rucker, a 6-foot sophomore, carried the load in the second quarter, hitting pull-up jumpers and threes for the Wildcats. Looney is not 100 percent but still on the court. He just had his first two offensive boards of the game, tipping in a missed shot.
St. Rita 61, Hamilton 58, end third quarter
Hamilton starting to run out of gas. Too many putbacks by St. Rita.
St. Rita 81, Hamilton 67, final
Dominique Matthews poured in 28 points and Charles Matthews scored 20 for St. Rita. Treston Forbes added 14. Kevon Looney started hot and finished with 32 points for Hamilton. The 6-10 guard hit six treys and was 12-for-15 at the foul line.
Catching up on earlier action (consolation).
Consolation: Mount Vernon (N.Y.) 56, ‘Iolani 48
Brandon Martin scored 18 points and Judah Alexander hustled for 10 as the Knights bounced back with a win. Yhanni Bartley also scored 10 points. Zach Buscher scored 15 points for the Raiders.
Consolation: Kamehameha 49, Oroku (Okinawa) 35
Jaycob Smith pumped in 14 points to lead the Warriors. Taiki Yamakawa scored 10 for the Trojans.
Consolation: Fuxin (China) 59, ‘Iolani II 39
Xingyu Chen and Jiawei Feng scored 13 points each to spark the New Star. Guowen Ao added 12 points. Niklas Vonder Haar had six points for the Division II Raiders.
Consolation: Moanalua 52, Kailua 48
Antoine Hines scored 15 points to pace Na Menehune. Aaron Stuart added 11 points and Jamaal Willis had 10. William Kailimai scored 25 points for the Surfriders.
Consolation: Kaiser 51, Radford 46
Chance Kalaugher scored 17 points to lead the Cougars to their first win in the tourney. Jordan Riley had 15 and Aaron Jackson tallied 10 for the Rams.