Saturday, February 4, 2017

Catholic Memorial Bounces Back to Hand BC High its First Loss

By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)

Anyone who pronounced the Knights dead earlier this week was in for a rude surprise on Friday night.

After two tough losses to O’Bryant (81-62) and St. John’s Prep (66-63), Catholic Memorial proved on Friday night that they still have that edge that has lead them to three consecutive Division 1 South Sectional Titles. Behind 27 points and 8 rebounds from Ulyen Coleman, and 24 points from Kani Glover, the Knights wiped BC High off their home floor, 80-58, to knock the Eagles from the ranks of the unbeaten.

The Knights were in control of the game from the opening tip, jumping out to a 39-26 lead at half before taking a commanding 63-43 advantage into the final frame.

For most of the season, BC High’s offense has faced man-to-man defenses, but on Friday the Knights showed them a different look, switching between a 3-2 zone and some triangle and two on Eagle sharp shooters Carl Pierre and Travis Evee.

The zone look for the Knights seemed to make the Eagles uncomfortable, as Catholic Memorial was often able to force BC High to drain the shot clock down before getting them to take a difficult, off balance shot.

Knights’ coach Denis Tobin said his teams length makes the zone that much more effective.

“This year’s team has good length so we are better situated for a zone,” said Tobin. “The last couple weeks we have played it and for the most part we have been able to hold teams in the 50s or 60s. Tonight it certainly worked.”

In front of a large BC High contingency, the Knights were on fire from the opening tip.

For the first half alone Catholic Memorial shot 45 percent from three, while limiting their opponent to under 25 percent in the same category.

Seven straight points from Glover midway through the first quarter put Catholic Memorial up 16-12, and a Coleman jumper at the buzzer handed the Knights a 18-14 lead after one.

BC High opened up the second quarter on a brief 5-0 run capped off by a Jordan Minor and-one, but from that point forward it was all Knights.

Five straight from Coleman and two shots from behind the arc by Glover fueled a 13-0 Knights run that put Catholic Memorial up 31-19.

The two played off one another all night long.

When Coleman drove to the basket and could not find an opening, he often dished out to Glover for an open three. Conversely when Glover appeared unable to get off an open look, Coleman was there to drill a long distance shot in the defender’s face.

Catholic Memorial took a 39-26 advantage into the break, and every time the Eagles tried to draw closer, the Knights fired right back.

“The talk was to play a full game,” said Coleman of Tobin’s halftime message. “Xaverian was up on BC High at the half and they came back and won. We knew that they were a second half team, so we just kept reminding ourselves the need to play a full 32 minutes, and we did that tonight.”

Glover opened the third quarter with his fourth three pointer of the game. The two sides exchanged baskets over the next couple of possessions, until the Knights finally broke the game open.

A drive by Glover combined with a pull up three by Coleman and a lay up by Jarrett Martin handed Catholic Memorial a commanding 51-30 lead.

BC High never came within 17 after that – a symbol of the Knights' dominance all evening long.

“We realized we cant win the league this year, so the focus is to try and get better each day,” said Tobin. “We know BC High is a great team and this gave us a great opportunity to look towards the state tournament.”

While Catholic Memorial may not finish the season at the top of the Catholic Conference, no one should be surprised if they are one of the last teams standing to finish at the top of Division 1 South.

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