The Purcell Marian boys’ basketball team has several components that could very well make this a special season by the time next March rolls around.
But, for now, the Cavaliers are focused on the present. On Friday night, Purcell exhibited its athleticism and length in the Third Annual Kickoff Classic at Walnut Hills.
Senior guard Jordan Gaines had 22 points and senior guard Rashaad Ali-Shakir added 21 as Purcell Marian defeated Dayton Meadowdale 71-61. Ali-Shakir had a game-high four 3-pointers.
Purcell Marian (1-0) plays Walnut Hills (1-0), which defeated Shroder, 53-44, on Friday night, at 8 p.m. Saturday in the event finale.
Purcell Marian coach Scott Kerr was pleased with the energy in the second half but wants his squad to be consistent in all four quarters. He wants better execution and effort and every trip down the floor and lets his players know that.
He also wants the Cavaliers to limit their fouls on the defensive end.
“We fought hard, we persevered and showed a lot of composure there when they cut the lead down to four and six in the third and fourth quarter,” Kerr said.
Kerr lauded the 6-4 Gaines and the 6-1 Ali-Shakir saying both players have been committed to the program since the summer. They were clearly the driving force tonight.
“You could really see tonight those guys were game ready,” Kerr said.
Gaines said distributing the ball and being smart were among the keys Friday night.
Gaines was also 6-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 1:18. Gaines said he’s made a significant effort to improve his free-throwing shooting and wants to be at least 80 percent. He makes an effort to complete 50 free throws daily at practice.
The Cavaliers never trailed and led 31-26 at halftime.
In the second half, Purcell Marian played with much more energy in the third quarter and its athleticism really soared with it.
Purcell received solid contributions from multiple players including senior 6-5 forward Qawi Rucker, whose two-handed slam punctuated the Cavaliers’ surge late in the third and gave them a 46-36 lead entering the fourth.
Kerr and the players said it’s a progress and early indicators are solid on this squad.
“I thought we played ok,” said Ali-Shakir, who has a chance to be the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed all-time 3-point shooting leader and is 25 away from tying the mark. “We didn’t play to our potential. We could play better. But, it was a good win for us.”
Purcell Marian 71, Meadowdale 61
Purcell (1-0) – Moore 4 3 11, Ali-Shakir 6 5 21, Smith 0 5 5, Gaines 6 9 22, Clark 0 1 1, Howard 1 0 2, Rucker 2 5 9. Total: 19 28 71.
Meadowdale (0-1) – Keeble 4 4 14, Williams 4 1 9, G. Smith 2 2 6, McCoy 2 0 5, Suber 5 3 14, J. Smith 2 2 8, McClendon 1 2 4, Thornton 0 1 1. Total: 18 15 61