If 27 years of postseason futility was a burden on the Christian Academy boys basketball team in recent days, coach Chad Carr sure didn’t sense it.
“We probably had the loosest practices we’ve had all year,” Carr said of the preparation for Tuesday’s postseason opener. “Several times I had to get them refocused and say, ‘Look, stop being so fun-loving and let’s get it after it. We have a big game.’”
Carr’s team didn’t let him down.
K.C. Purvis posted 22 points and 10 rebounds and Parker Jones added 21 points as the host Centurions beat Eastern 57-44 in the semifinals of the 28th District Tournament.
With the victory, CAL (22-9) clinched a spot in next week’s Seventh Region Tournament. It will be the Centurions’ first trip since 1990.
“It’s huge,” Jones said. “We knew we could do it coming into the season because this is the most talented team we’ve had in a while. After we beat (Eastern) the first time (65-53 on Feb. 3), we knew we’d beat them again.”
CAL will host Ballard in Thursday’s 7 p.m. district final, with both teams advancing to the regional tournament. Ballard beat Kentucky Country Day 80-47 in Tuesday’s first district semifinal.
CAL-Eastern: Jones was hot early, hitting a trio of 3-pointers and scoring all of his team’s points as the Centurions jumped to a 15-10 lead in the first minute of the second quarter.
“I felt like everything I shot was going to go in,” Jones said. “I kept getting open, and coach wants me to shoot as much as I can when I’m open. … It took a lot of the pressure off.”
Eastern (15-15) put together a 15-4 run for a 29-24 lead, but Milton Wright’s 3-pointer cut the Eagles’ edge to 29-27 at halftime.
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Purvis was the difference in the second half, when he scored 16 points and pulled down six rebounds. His 3-point play with 1:47 left gave CAL a 50-42 lead and sparked a 10-2 run to end the game.
Purvis helped the bigger Centurions win the rebounding battle 33-20 and outscore the Eagles 12-4 in second-chance points.
“He was a beast,” Carr said of Purvis. “It was physical on both ends, and he didn’t let it get to him. That’s him being a football player. It really showed right there.”
Meanwhile, Eastern hit just 5 of 22 shots (22.7 percent) in the second half. Braxton Johnson led the Eagles with 12 points.
“I didn’t think we took bad shots until it was scramble time in the last two minutes,” Eagles coach David Henley said. “Just about every shot we got was a good shot. They just didn’t fall.”
For CAL, it’s on to a district final against a Ballard team it’s lost to twice this season – 88-47 on Dec. 9 and 69-61 on Jan. 11.
“Lucky us, we get Ballard,” Carr said with a laugh. “The kids came to practice Monday and said, ‘We’re getting to (the Seventh Region Tournament), but we have other goals we want to accomplish.’ I said, ‘I’ll go as far as you guys will take us.’ I’m just enjoying it right now.”
Ballard-KCD: Clivonte Patterson scored 15 points and Jamil Wilson added 14 to lead the Bruins (24-6) – No. 6 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – over the Bearcats (12-15).
Ballard did it without head coach Chris Renner, who was serving the first of a three-game suspension after being ejected from a game Saturday in Indianapolis. Longtime assistant Ray Kline is filling in for Renner during his absence.
Solomon Mathis scored 14 points to lead KCD.
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and email@example.com.
CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 57, EASTERN 44
EASTERN (15-15) – Sugar Ray Wyche 4p; Jacob Robinson 8p; Braxton Johnson 12p; William Clay 3p; Caleb Williams 6p; Javen Rushin 11p, 4r, 3a.
CAL (22-9) – Milton Wright 7p; Jeffrey Peterson 3p; K.C. Purvis 22p, 10r; Parker Jones 21p, 7r; Michael Woodward 4p, 5a.
BALLARD 80, KENTUCKY COUNTRY DAY 47
KCD (12-15) – Solomon Mathis 14p; J.R. Mathis 11p; Hayden Kraus 6p; Justin Grissom 2p; Lawson Whiting 1p; Wilder Brice 2p; Cedric Cosby 7p; Peyton Hendrickson 4p.
BALLARD (24-6) – Marshon Ford 10p; Dorion Tisby 9p; Antoine Darby 9p; Jamil Wilson 14p; Clivonte Patterson 15p; Tyrese Duncan 2p; Kereion Douglas 5p; Tyron Duncan 2p; Delonta Wimberly 10p; Orlando Higginbottom 2p; Tony Kose 2p.