The magical season for the Charlotte Catholic boys basketball team continued on Saturday night at home without much worry.
The Cougars (29-1) jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter and never looked back in a dominating 66-38 victory over a West Charlotte team coming off two impressive playoff wins. The Cougars advanced to the Western 4A Regional semifinals and will play at home Tuesday against Highpoint Southwest Guilford (27-2), a 66-65 winner Saturday over Independence.
And as usual, it was the depth of the Catholic roster and a smothering defense that sent the Lions home for the season. Ten different players scored for the Cougars with only Justin Mckinstry (13) and Jack Larkin (12) finishing in double digits. But that’s the way it’s been all season for Catholic.
“We’ve been balanced all year long,” said Cougars coach Mike King. “I’ve got seven guts that average over eight points a game. Guys are really unselfish and make the next pass. We can make a couple of one-on-one moved ourselves, and we’ve got some skills ourselves and try to play to that.”
Catholic got the start they wanted with a 14-3 advantage late in the first quarter. But the Lions went on a six-point run to close out the quarter down by only five points. But the Cougars held West Charlotte to only five points in the second quarter while scoring 14 to lead by 14 at the half.
Mckinstry was a big factor in the Cougars establishing the big lead, scoring nine of his team-high 13 points in the first half.
“We were well-prepared,” said Mckinstry. “Our coach told us what they were going to do so offensively we were prepared. My teammates just got me the ball in a comfortable position and I’m glad we could come out with the win.”
The frustration boiled over late for West Charlotte coach Baronton Terry, who in the fourth quarter received his second technical foul, which resulted in an automatic ejection…….Cougars’ power forward Xander Gagnon is looking for a double-double of sorts. Gagnon won a state championship in football for Catholic and is now seeking a state basketball championship in the same season.
Three who mattered
Jalen Knight: Lions’ junior guard scored a game-high 14 points and played hard the whole game despite his team trailing most of the way.
Sam Smith: Cougars’ senior guard rang up two 3-pointers at key times and finished with nine points.
Josh Brodowicz: Catholic senior floor general and captain helped render the West Charlotte press ineffective with never-ending energy and hustle.
They said it
“I’ve got some tape on them and some film, but aside from what I see in the paper they are a really good team. Southwest Guilford lost only two games all year to the same team. We are going to have to really dig down deep and take care of business.” Catholic coach Mike King in previewing Tuesday’s 4A Western Regional semi-final playoff game against Southwest Guilford.
West Charlotte (15-11), Catholic (29-1)