In what might have been Catholic’s most impressive win of the season, the Crusaders (20-6) fired on all cylinders to oust Madison County 68-44 last week in the Region 1-4A quarterfinals.
Five days later the Crusaders will face their biggest test of this season in Tallahassee for the Region 1-4A semifinals — the 29-0 Godby Cougars.
Godby showed extreme skill in the first round of the playoffs and bested West Florida 67-31 in the region quarterfinals. The Cougars led that game 40-10 at the half.
But after a few days preparation for the big game, Catholic coach Nick Mead feels optimistic about his team.
“We had a great day of practice (Monday),” Mead said. “I feel like we have a great plan and I think we are ready. It’s not going to be easy by any means, but it’s going to be a fun game either way.
“(To beat Godby) would be huge. Especially for the seniors … they have been the mainstay of our program’s success for the last three to four years.”
The Cougars will enter the region semifinal having outscored opponents 378-255 through their last five contests.
“(Godby) isn’t 29-0 by accident. … They are very good, athletic and have great length,” Mead said. “They bring pressure all game. They want you to play fast. They are bruisers and they get after the glass the whole game.”
Mead knows that to beat a team of Godby’s caliber, the Crusaders will need a strong focus on the present game plan.
“Earlier this season, we were able to win some games due to our size, athleticism or raw skill,” Mead said. “We would win, but I would be frustrated if I knew would could have played better. We can’t rely on that (on Tuesday night). We’ve got to play a better basketball game than Godby.”
Heading much further east than Catholic, Pensacola High (22-5) and coach Terrence Harris left Monday to Gainesville for the Region 1-6A semifinal.
Harris said it was “typical team road trip” as the team enjoyed the ride and watched movies, but Tuesday night the Tigers will get back to business as they face Gainesville (28-3) in the region semifinals for a consecutive year.
“Gainesville is a very good team,” Harris said. “They are a big team. I expect them to have some younger players this year.”
Tuesday night’s contest will mark the Tigers’ first road game since Jan. 29 at Crestview, but Harris said traveling is part of basketball and expects his team to adapt.
“We seem to be playing with more focus,” said Harris, referring to the win over Oakleaf. “We were able to be a bit smoother on offense and we did a better job with free throws. We’ve really been playing as a team.”
WANT TO GO?
Region 1-6A semifinal
• Who: Pensacola Tigers vs. Gainesville Purple Hurricanes
• Where: Gainesville High School
• When: 6 p.m. CST
• Records: PHS (22-5); GHS (28-3)
Region 1-4A semifinal
• Who: Catholic Crusaders vs. Godby Cougars
• Where: Tallahassee Godby High
• When: 6 p.m. CST
• Records: Catholic (20-6); Godby (29-0)