Evangel advances behind Bryant’s hot shooting

By PRESTON EDWARDS, Journal Sports

It had been a long time since the Evangel Eagles hosted a meaningful boys basketball playoff game. The last time it happened, Dunham visited in the regional round of the 2A playoffs and downed the Eagles by 13.

That was 10 years ago. Fast forward to Wednesday night, and the Eagles had a chance to erase memories of that loss in the same round. This time, a Division II quarterfinals spot was on the line.

It took the Eagles a half to warm up. Behind the hot second-half shooting of wing Jecal Bryant, Evangel pushed past a tough E.D. White squad 60-52.

Bryant was quiet in the first two quarters, scoring just one basket. Afterward, he was the star of the night as he connected on six treys. His 22 points after intermission were vital for Evangel considering the rest of the team had a subpar night.

Guard Lance Waddles, ranked among the state’s top 20 prospects, helped provide a spark before Bryant got going. His five points, along with a Bryant three, helped Evangel begin the third quarter on a 10-0 run. That run gave the Eagles a lead that they did not relinquish. Waddles finished with 12 points.

Coach Eric Shepherd, while happy with the win, was not very happy with the Eagles’ overall performance.

“We haven’t played that bad in a while, “ Shepherd stated. “Hopefully we can get back to Evangel basketball within the next 72 hours.”

Going into the game, Shepherd thought a key would be not to let E.D. White guard Mason Lawless light it up. In the first half; however, that is exactly what he did, posting 13 points by intermission. Lawless finished with a game-high 27.

Shepherd categorized the game Lawless had as “an easy 27.”

“We have to guard better,” was Shepherd’s assessment. “Archbishop Hannan will force us to guard and we have to do just that.”

The Eagles’ record improves to 20-8. They will travel to play their quarterfinal contest in Covington with a berth at Marsh Madness on the line. Tip time has yet to be determined. E.D. White, the 11th seed in Division II, finished its season with a record of 17-11.

CALVARY 81, CEDAR CREEK 39: In a Division IV playoff game at Calvary, Kameron Kennon scored 17 and Labree Williams posted a double-double of 15 points and 11 boards as second-seeded Calvary rolled by 15th seed Cedar Creek 81-39. Calvary will host the Ascension Catholic-River Oaks winner on Saturday at 7 p.m.