By PRESTON EDWARDS, Journal Sports
There is just something about a team that has been through the playoff wars. The players on that team never seem to panic and they make winning plays when they are needed. On Saturday night, the Calvary Cavaliers were that team.
Led by its two senior starters, Labree Williams and Martin McDowell, Calvary punched its ticket to Marsh Madness in Lafayette. Even though the final score was 76-58, the outcome was decided in the first quarter of this quarterfinal matchup.
McDowell and Williams came out of the gate blazing. Williams started the onslaught by scoring the first six points of the game. He and McDowell, who scored eight points with two made 3s, supplied all of the Cavaliers’ first-period scoring as they raced to a 26-11 lead.
Ascension Catholic, out of Donaldsonville, applied a strategy that most teams have not used when it comes to defending Williams. The visitors attempted to guard him one-on-one with 6-foot-4 freshman Javoris Breaux. The outcome did not turn out the way that they hoped.
“I figured they would try and play him (Labree) straight up to start.,” said coach Vic Morris about the matchup. “That’s what they’ve done in the games I watched. So we were prepared to go to him from the jump.”
Ascension Catholic did little to deter Williams from catching the ball and scoring. Even though they did cut the second-quarter deficit to six, Williams, McDowell and Kameron Kennon thwarted the comeback. The three upperclassmen scored 19 of the 20 second-quarter points with the last two coming on a dazzling up-and-under layup by McDowell at the horn. That bucket helped Calvary build a 46-32 lead at the half.
From there, Calvary pretty much held the line. The Bulldogs did pull within single digits one more time with a made three by Gavin Richardson at the end of the third quarter. From there, Williams and crew took over again. Junior Malaki Thomas began the fourth with two layups of his own and Williams scored 13 of his game-high 41 points in the fourth quarter. The outcome was very much decided by then.
Coach Morris talked after the game about what he told his seniors to set the tone of the night.
“We just talked about how the team goes as they go,” said Morris. “When they are talking, playing hard and doing the little things it takes to win, the rest of the guys follow suit. I also talked about it being the last time they would play a meaningful game in this gym and they took it to heart.”
Took it to heart they did. Now, the Cavaliers will face Metairie Park Country Day on Wednesday in Lafayette with a chance to play for the Division IV state title. Tip for that semifinal game will be 4 p.m.
Seventh-seeded Ascension Catholic, who was led by Demarco Harry’s 15 points, finished its season at 19-12.
(Photo by PRESTON EDWARDS).