It took Lansing Catholic eight extra minutes to recuperate from its snow day on Friday. But after giving up 19 first-quarter points to Ionia in a CAAC White showdown, the Cougars (4-2, 3-0) held the Bulldogs (2-5, 1-2) to just 29 points for the remaining 24 minutes on their way to a 58-48 victory at Lansing Catholic High School.
Ionia had four different players contribute to the point total during its 19-14 first-quarter victory — led by Austin Gregory’s 10 points.
“Ionia hit some tough shots. They made a lot of shots in the first quarter,” Lansing Catholic coach Darren Zwick said. “I don’t think we were real engaged defensively. We were a step slow. We weren’t getting the closeouts that we needed to.
“We talked about that, and I thought we did a better job in the second quarter.”
The Cougars started the second quarter on a 7-2 run. And with 3:42 remaining in the first half, Matthew Fata’s 3-pointer gave Lansing Catholic its first lead of the game.
The Cougars outscored the Bulldogs, 17-11, in the second quarter and took a 31-30 lead into the half.
“We need to create our own energy on nights like this,” said Fata. “We got out to a slow start. We weren’t playing good defense early and it showed on the scoreboard.”
In the third quarter, Fata took it into his own hands to continue momentum heading into the second half. The senior scored nine of his game-high 24 points in the third quarter, including the team’s first six points.
Lansing Catholic, which scored 15 points in the third, held Ionia to only eight points in the first eight minutes of the second half.
“After the first half, when they went to a zone, it kind of threw us off a little bit,” said Gregory, who scored a team-high 22 points for the Bulldogs. “We knew they possibly would run it, but after they didn’t run it in the first half. …It caught us by a little bit of a surprise coming out of halftime.”
Ionia went on an 8-3 run to start the fourth quarter and was able to cut the Cougars’ lead to 49-45. However, Lansing Catholic closed the game by outscoring the Bulldogs, 9-3, in the game’s final moments.
“In this league, you have to come in and compete every night,” Fata said. “If you don’t play your best you can get beaten on any given night — it doesn’t matter who you play. We need to play our best.”
Tony Poljan scored 19 points for the Cougars. Josh Magley added 11 points for Ionia.