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Cathedral ousts rival St. Aloysius, 38-34

[2/18/04]NATCHEZ Turner Smith connected on the second of two free throws with five seconds left Tuesday night to lift Natchez Cathedral to a 38-34 victory over St. Aloysius in the opening round of the Region 7-1A Tournament.

The loss eliminates the Flashes (10-16), who entered the game as the No. 4 seed.

“This is going to be one of the best experiences I have in high school putting St. Al out,” said Smith, who was the quarterback on the football team that lost to the Flashes in November. “We went up there, and they beat us by 22. They beat us here by 11. I missed the first (free throw), looked at the scoreboard and knew I had to put the second one in. I would have felt horrible to miss it and they hit a miracle shot at the buzzer.”

The Green Wave took that 3-pointer away with the 2-3 zone defense it played the entire game, but never did it come in as handy as it did in the final two minutes. When Kyle Richards tossed in a bucket with 2:07 left to cut Cathedral’s lead to 37-34, the Flashes couldn’t convert on their end to get any closer.

Then Matt Goss and Charlie Lane each missed at the free throw line to keep in a one-possession ball game until Smith hit that one free throw with five seconds left.

After three missed 3-point attempts in the final minute, the Flashes came up empty at the buzzer when Drew Mazzanti fired a half-court shot.

The Flashes erased a 10-point first-half deficit and took a two-point lead in the fourth quarter, but missed several 3-pointers down the stretch after Cathedral had retaken the lead.

The Flashes hit one 3-pointer each in the second and third quarters, but attempts from Anthony Rector, Mazzanti and Kyle Richards didn’t fall.

“They played their type of game,” St. AL coach Paul Hayden said. “My hat goes off to them. It’s this gym. My girls had the same problem down here last night. It really makes a big difference when you play at home.

“I knew that. We had that advantage last year. It came down to the little things missed layups early on and missed opportunities.”