You have to give it to the Central Catholic of Morgan City Eagles.
They arrived at the Lafayette Christian sportsplex determined not to play scared against the heavily-favored Knights.
And for the most part, that approach worked … for about two quarters, that is.
Despite a lull late in the first quarter, the Eagles only trailed 21-17 early in the second and only trailed by a respectable 44-37 score at the half, thanks mostly to some superb early inside play by Jalen Johnson.
As valiant of an effort as it was while it lasted, however, the Knights quickly squashed any upset hopes the visitors may have had with an 18-2 spurt to start the third quarter and the party was on in the Lafayette Christian gymnasium.
The Knights went on to cruise to an 89-59 victory, securing the second straight outright District 7-1A championship for LCA (now 24-3, 10-0).
“It’s good for any team to come in and challenge us,” LCA coach Byron Starks said. “Central Catholic played well in the first half. I just told my guys at the half if they wanted it to go get it.
“We didn’t play good enough defense in the first half. We gave up way too many easy baskets in the first half.”
Starks’ message may have sounded pretty simple and easy, but it worked like a charm. It was Kalob Ledoux that ignited the decisive 18-2 run that opened the second half with a personal 12-point surge, highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers.
So much so that went Jacob Ledoux followed with his fourth 3-pointer of the evening and Greg Williams his first, the competitive first half suddenly seemed so long ago with the Knights quickly up 70-45 with 36 seconds left in the third period.
In fact, that commanding lead got all the way up to 82-45 before CCMC could answer midway through the fourth period.
Kalob and Jacob Ledoux both finished with 21 points, while Williams added 11 and Caleb Starks 10 in the runaway victory. The Knights knocked down 12 more 3-pointers in the win, but did miss six of their 11 attempts at the free throw line.
Defensively, LCA forced 17 turnovers while committing 12. CCMC dropped to 12-12 overall and 8-3 in league play with the loss.
The winning effort set off a postgame, net-cutting ceremony that Starks hopes becomes an annual event at the LCA sportsplex.
“Because of the power rankings, some don’t put as much emphasis on winning a district championship,” Starks said. “But I told our guys that it’s another building block for our program.”
Perhaps the aspect of Friday’s win, though, that encouraged Starks the most was the play of Andrew Epps inside. It was actually Epps who scored the first two baskets to start the third quarter to contribute with six points inside.
“That’s what we need out of Andrew if we’re going to win a state championship,” Starks said. “That’s what he’s capable of doing. He’s played well in the last three games. He’s played good defense, rebounded and given us some second-chance baskets. He’s also been shooting a good percentage. That’s what we need out of him.”
The Knights now head to Gueydan on Monday, a week before learning their Class 1A state playoff road.