INDIANAPOLIS — Ra Kpedi doesn’t keep a running tally of his dunks. But the Lawrence North senior is pretty certain his shooting percentage on dunk attempts is right around 100. And his team’s odds of winning rise with each attempt.
The 6-9 Kpedi threw down a couple third-quarter dunks Wednesday as the Class 4A No. 8 Wildcats pulled away for a 64-50 win over visiting Cathedral. Kpedi finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds, and frontcourt teammate, 6-6 junior Kevin Easley, pitched in 18 points and eight rebounds against the undersized Irish.
“Ra has a big game every time we play a smaller team,” Easley said. “Our size is so important. I think we have one of the biggest teams in the state. Ra is having a great season down there. He gets rebounds. I have to rebound better. I know coach (Jack) Keefer wants me to. But our size helps us a lot.”
Lawrence North (8-2) was playing its first game since splitting two games at the City Securities Hall of Fame Classic in New Castle this past week, losing to Logansport and defeating Warsaw. The Wildcats committed 11 first-half turnovers and trailed 29-27 at halftime.
An emphasis on pounding the ball inside paid off for Lawrence North in the third quarter. Kpedi scored eight of his points in the frame, all from point-blank range. The Wildcats ran off a 13-0 run to close the quarter and led 44-34 entering the fourth.
“Discipline is a key for us,” Kpedi said. “If have good ball movement and get the ball inside and go outside, that’s our game. We have to limit those turnovers and not get too fast of a shot. Coach Keefer let us talk it out at halftime, and we got it on the right track.”
Cathedral (6-4) never pulled closer than eight points in the fourth quarter. Part of the problem was that the Irish kept fouling junior guard Antwaan Cushingberry, who made all eight of his free throws in the fourth quarter and finished with 13 points and six assists. The other Wildcats were 6-for-15 from the free-throw line.
Junior Jarron Coleman led Cathedral with 22 points, seven rebounds and four steals. The Irish shot just 27 percent in the second half and committed 19 turnovers on the night — not exactly a recipe for success.
Cathedral often settled for outside shots, in part of its own doing and in part because of the size of Kpedi and Easley.
“We came out in the second half and turned the ball over way too much,” first-year Cathedral coach Jason Delaney said. “We didn’t attack the basket like wanted to. Kpedi is pretty intimidating and he alters shots. That’s one of the things we came in game planning for. We wanted to try to go through him and not be intimated, but that’s easier said than done.”
Lawrence North and Cathedral play in Sectional 10, hosted this year by currently top-ranked North Central. Both programs have the capability of making a run at the Panthers, but have work to do before March. The Wildcats get another big test Friday against unbeaten Warren Central before playing in the Marion County tournament next week.
“I think we’ll be a great team by March,” Easley said.
Cathedral hosts Northwest on Friday and Tech on Saturday. The Irish have lost to Fort Wayne North Side, Warren Central, Danville and Lawrence North — teams with a combined 36-3 record.
“These guys are trying,” Delaney said. “Eron (Gordon) and Jordan (Walker) did a lot for this team last year. We’re asking guys who were role players to step up and be the man. We’re living through some mistakes and the future is very bright, but we’re playing for this season right now.”
Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649. Follow him on Twitter: @KyleNeddenriep.
LAWRENCE NORTH 64, CATHEDRAL 50
Cathedral 14 15 5 16 — 50
Lawrence North 12 15 17 20 — 64
Cathedral (6-4) — Franklin 4 0-0 10, Landers 3 1-2 8, Coleman 9 0-1 22, Jackson 1 0-0 3, Goggans 2 0-0 4, Edwards 0 0-0 0, Myers 1 0-0 3, Kendrick 0 0-2 0, Welch 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20 1-5 50.
Lawrence North (8-2) — Cushingberry 2 8-8 13, Saunders 3 1-2 7, Shouse 0 2-6 2, Kpedi 7 2-3 16, Easley 8 0-0 18, Hankins 1 0-1 3, Davis 2 1-3 5, Moulton 0 0-0. Totals: 23 14-23 64.
3-point goals: Cathedral 9 (Coleman 4, Franklin 2, Landers, Jackson, Myers), Lawrence North (Easley 2, Cushingberry, Hankins).