Cathedral defeats St. Al boys

Published 12:03 pm Tuesday, February 8, 2011

JACKSON — Missed shots piled up like ghosts in the attic, each one vowing to return and exact a terrible curse.

They came in all shapes and sizes — layups, free throws and 3-pointers; airballs, bricks and rim-outs — and when the St. Aloysius Flashes walked off the court for the final time Monday night, the celebratory shouts of their archrivals and whispers of what might have been stung like daggers in their ears.

The Flashes endured a 1-for-14 shooting spell in the second and third quarters that allowed Cathedral to gain a lead it never relinquished. St. Aloysius faded under another late cold spell and lost 59-46 in the opening round of the Division 7-1A Tournament.

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Cathedral (10-12) advanced to a second-round matchup with West Lincoln on Thursday and is guaranteed a trip to the Class 1A North State satellite game next week. St. Al’s season ended in cruel fashion, with a promising team done in by one bad night.

“It’s real disappointing, because usually you get to the state playoffs in your second year,” said St. Al coach Richard Hodges, who concluded his second season at the school. “I thought with this crew we had a really, really good chance. The way they practiced Saturday and we had a good gameplan. But when the pressure is on, you’ve got to perform.”

D.J. Perry led Cathedral with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Luke Whitaker scored 13 points. Elliott Bexley had 15 points for St. Al (5-18) and Sean Johnson finished with 23 points and nine rebounds.

Bexley and Johnson scored 13 of their combined 38 points in the first quarter, when St. Al went 6-for-9 from the field and jumped out to a 13-8 lead. As quickly as they’d found their shooting stroke,

however, the Flashes lost it. They hit just one of their next 14 shots during the fateful swoon that extended into the third quarter. By the time the skid ended, Cathedral had a 31-17 lead and the Flashes were playing catch-up.

Cathedral took full advantage of the opportunity by going 14-for-30 from the field and outscoring St. Al 31-13 in the second and third quarters.

“We jumped out like we’d done to everybody,” Hodges said. “A missed shot here, there and we’re in a fight. Then you fall behind and you’re always trying to dig out of the hole.”

Amazingly, the Flashes almost did claw their way out — twice.

They pulled within seven late in the third quarter only to give up three quick baskets that pushed the deficit to 39-26 at the end of the period. Then, midway through the fourth, they got back within five on Sean Johnson’s 3-pointer with just under 5 minutes to play.

Cathedral’s Luke Whitaker answered with a 3-pointer seconds later, though. It triggered a 10-1 run that put the game away. St. Al didn’t get closer than eight the rest of the way.

“I think it probably was a dagger in the respect that we need to go back and answer, not hang our heads. You can’t let stuff like that break you,” Hodges said of Whitaker’s 3. “We came back down and missed on some other shots. Those were momentum busters, not the kid hitting the 3. When you have the opportunity to hit that shot, you’ve got to finish those.”